Copper price jumps on Chinese import surge, warehouse drawdown

Copper futures rose for the third straight session on Monday after Chinese imports jumped to an 18-month high in China.

In early afternoon trade, spot copper added more than 1% to $3.30 a pound, a more than 10% recovery from near three-year lows hit at the end of June.

Chinese copper imports, reversed declines suffered earlier in the year rocketing 18% to hit 457,847 tonnes in September, the highest since March 2012, thanks to a decline in high levels of warehouse stocks.

China consumes some 42% of the world's copper trade and bonded warehouse stocks have decline more than 60% since hitting a high of 1 million tonnes at the beginning of 2013.

Total imports of copper in the June-September quarter rose 21.4% over the second quarter to 1.26 million tonnes, according to the customs data.

The price of the red metal – considered a bellwether for the industry – was also boosted by the 28th consecutive drawdown of stocks in London Metals Exchange warehouses around the world.

Warehouses levels have declined to around 500,000 tonnes from 780 tonnes at the the end of June.

While demand for copper may be stronger than previously thought the price is expected to come under pressure as massive new supply starts hitting the market.

For the past seven years annual supply growth has been essentially static falling to as lows as 0.4% a year in 2010 to 2011.

This year growth in copper mine supply is set to jump by more than 5% and accelerate further in 2014, topping 6% and averaging over 4% through 2016.

Image of marble statue of  Mao Zedong in Shaoshan, China by Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock.com