Copper price extends rally after Chinese data, deficit surprise
In New York trade on Monday September copper jumped to a high of $3.151 a pound after data out of China shows manufacturing activity at a seven-month high.
It's the seventh straight day of gains for the red metal after coming dangerously close to breaching the $3.00 a pound level for the second time this year.
LME copper also showed some strength climbing to $6,900 a tonne after inventories at warehouses managed by the exchange fell to a six-year low.
The latest jump came after the preliminary or "flash" Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) indicated that the world's second largest economy was stabilizing.
China's HSBC/Markit manufacturing PMI for June rose to 50.8, up from 49.4 in May and much better than expected. A reading above 50 indicates expansionary conditions for industry.
The output and new orders components picked up, even though export orders weakened, suggesting strength in domestic demand.
Better than expected PMI number from the US also boosted sentiment and while the eurozone's measure of manufacturing activity fell back, at 52.8 it is still indicative of growth.
The copper price is highly correlated with economic growth thanks to the widespread use of the metal in the construction, transport and power industries.
The global refined copper market swung to a surprise shortage in March and a 205,000 tonnes deficit for the first three months of the year, compared with a 206,000 tonnes surplus in the same period in 2013, preliminary data from the International Copper Study Group showed on Monday.
Defying market expectations, the copper price has dug itself out of a near four-year low struck mid-March.
The metal remains 6.5% down in 2014 as the market adjusts to slower growth in China which consumes more than 40% of the world's copper demand of some 21 million tonnes.
Chinese copper imports tumbled 16% in May compared to the previous month, but year to date China is still importing refined copper at a record setting pace – up a whopping 34% over 2013 to 2.1 million tonnes.
The better than expected import numbers out of China may be a bit misleading however, because much of Chinese copper imports are tied up in finance deals as collateral for trade credit and is not being put to industrial use.
Image of Captain Copper, superhero created to teach kids about the metal, courtesy of Codelco