At the end of November copper hit an 18-month high on the back of optimism about the possible impact of president-elect Donald Trump’s $500 billion-plus infrastructure plan on the metal, widely used in construction, manufacturing transportation and power industries.
The price has since come off the boil, official customs data from China, responsible for some 45% of global consumption of the red metal, released overnight is helping the metal attempt these height again.
Copper futures trading on New York Comex added a couple of pennies trading near its day high of $2.6915 per pound ($5,934 a tonne) in lunchtime dealings. Copper is up 5.7% this week to a one-month high.
China’s refined copper imports surged nearly 30% to 490,000 tonnes in December compared to November, boosting imports for 2016 to a new record of 4.95 million tonnes, up just under 3% compared to the 2015 total.
Concentrate imports soared in 2016, with volumes gaining 28% year on year hitting an all-time high of 16.96 million tonnes for the year. December imports declined only 5% from the monthly record of 1.76 million tonnes in November.
Chinese imports compare to global mined production of an estimated 20.4 million tonnes per year.
After underperforming other metals and steelmaking raw materials for the better part of 2016, copper has been playing catch-up and is now up 40% from six-year lows hit mid-January last year.