LONDON - Copper prices plumbed fresh lows on Friday after worse-than-expected economic data in top metals consumer China deepened fears about lacklustre metals demand.

Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange, which were heading for the worst weekly loss since March 2020, were also hit by worries that aggressive rate hikes may trigger a global recession.

The three-month copper contract on the London Metal Exchange hit $6,955 a tonne, slipping below the $7,000 mark for the first time since November 2020.

It later pared losses to $7,000 a tonne in official open outcry trading, a loss of 2.4%. On a weekly basis, copper dropped about 10%.

"There's hardly any positive news these days across many regions of the world and when people get bearish, typically the sell-off is sharper than on the way up. So I think we could grind lower still," said Xiao Fu, head of commodity market strategy at Bank of China International.

Data showed China's economic growth slowed sharply in the second quarter, growing at a tepid 0.4% from a year earlier, the worst showing for the world's second-biggest economy since the data series began in 1992.

"There are still concerns about the property market in China and it's unclear how the situation will develop in the coming months. A lack of recovery could sustain the bearish sentiment," Fu added.

Chinese regulators' assurances of help in delivering property projects on time failed to convince some homebuyers threatening to stop mortgage payments.

A growing nationwide homebuyers' boycott has rekindled investor concerns about China's slumping property sector, which accounts for a quarter of the economy

The most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at its lowest since November 2020 at 53,480 yuan ($7,904.58) a tonne.

LME nickel hit a nine-month low of $18,230 a tonne and was down 2% in official activity at $19,010 while ShFE nickel tumbled as much as 12.6% to its lowest since December 2021.

LME aluminium dipped 0.1% to $2,335 a tonne after touching the lowest since May last year, zinc gave up 0.7% to $2,856 after hitting a one-year low, tin dropped 4.2% to $23,300, but lead climbed 3.5% to $1,897.

(Reporting by Eric Onstad, Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Kirsten Donovan)