Copper Jumps Most in a Month as China Metal Imports Reach Record

Feb 12, 2014 3:16 pm ET

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Copper rose the most in more than a month after China’s imports surged to a record, bolstering prospects for demand in the world’s biggest consumer.

Imports in January climbed 53 percent from a year earlier to 536,000 metric tons, Chinese customs data showed today. The nation’s economy may expand 7.6 percent this year, Helen Zhu, chief China strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said today. That’s faster than the 7.4 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The import data “was huge, and those are the numbers that are driving copper higher,” Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “As long as you see a global recovery and you get some of the emerging-market fears to at least die down in the near term, it’s a bullish trade for copper.”

Copper futures for delivery in March gained 1.3 percent to settle at $3.256 a pound at 1:17 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain since Jan. 10.

Demand for copper to use as collateral to get credit aided the higher imports, Sijin Cheng, an analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in a report. Buyers in China also signed more contract tonnages this year after paying record premiums in 2013, the report showed. Inventories in bonded warehouses rose to 600,000 tons last month from 525,000 tons in December, she said.

Prices also gained as Faurecia SA, Europe’s largest maker of car interiors, said world auto production is set to swell 3 percent this year. The International Copper Study Group says an average midsize car contains about 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of the metal.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose 1.1 percent to $7,155 a ton ($3.25 a pound).

Stockpiles monitored by the LME fell for a 19th straight session to the lowest since December 2012.

Aluminum for delivery in three months gained 1.6 percent to $1,735 a ton in London, the biggest advance since Dec. 27.

Nickel, lead, tin and zinc climbed in London.

--With assistance from Alex Davis in Hong Kong and Agnieszka Troszkiewicz and Maria Kolesnikova in London. Editors: Millie Munshi, Patrick McKiernan