* Some Chile copper output still down after floods -CESCO
* LME tin breaks below $16,000 T for first time since June 2010 (Updates with closing prices)
By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) – Copper hit a near four-week low on Tuesday as concern grew over demand in top consumer China a day before the country gives an update on its economic growth.
China, which consumes some 45 percent of the world’s copper, will report gross domestic product for the first quarter on Wednesday and traders say there are risks the figure may come in weaker than expected after poor trade news this week.
The Asian giant’s export sales shrank 15 percent in March, deepening concern about sputtering growth.
“This gradual managed slowdown (in China) will continue and that’s not good for copper,” said Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar.
“Second-quarter demand is expected to improve, but that will just stop (copper) prices weakening significantly. We still expect a surplus of about 300,000 tonnes (this year).”
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange dropped to a low of $5,900 a tonne, its weakest since March 20, before paring losses to close at $5,950, down 0.7 percent.
Copper has consolidated since hitting 5-1/2 year lows in January.
Supply disruptions limited copper’s losses, however. Copper output in the Atacama region of Chile that was hardest hit by floods last month is still almost completely at a standstill.
In other metals, tin slid to $15,865 a tonne, its weakest since June 2010, but rebounded to be bid at $16,275, up 1.1 percent, after failing to trade in closing open outcry rings. Prices have struggled as slowing global growth has hurt electronics demand and supply from Myanmar has risen.
LME nickel slid to a near six-year low of $12,205 a tonne before bouncing back to end at $12,550, up 1.2 percent.
The metal has been under pressure from rising LME stocks, destocking by stainless steel mills and weak Chinese demand, though some analysts are starting to call the bottom.
“You’ve got some signs that demand is starting to pick up, but there’s a lot of nickel sloshing around,” said analyst Leon Westgate at ICBC Standard Bank in London.
“You’re going to have to start eating into LME stocks to give a visual indicator to the market that things are tightening up before you start to see people piling in on a speculative basis.”
Benchmark zinc shed 0.6 percent to close at $2,194 a tonne and lead fell 0.6 percent to $1,979. The two metals have rallied in recent weeks but failed to break their 200-day moving averages, a technical indicator that sent a sell signal to chart-based traders.
Aluminium gained 1.4 percent to end at $1,790 a tonne.