At first glance, the latest copper numbers out of Chile appear to fit the recent narrative of supply-side disappointments. A closer look, however, suggests output may be improving in the top-producing nation.
While revenue from shipments fell 2.3% in May from April, according to central bank data released Wednesday, average copper prices slid more the 6% in the same period, signaling volumes probably rose. The year-on-year comparison is even more promising, with revenue up almost 7% despite a steep drop in prices.
The data suggest Chilean production may be stabilizing after a series of project delays, mine-specific setbacks and plant maintenance. That follows monthly data showing Peruvian output rising sharply and the Congo’s giant Kamoa-Kakula mine continuing to ramp up.
Stronger mine supplies — coupled with fragile Chinese demand — help explain why warehouse inventories are at seven-month highs.
(By James Attwood)