Copper Gains as China Imports Advance; Freeport Extends Slump

  • Copper purchases second highest on record in December
  • `The rising copper imports in China stopped the bleeding'

Copper advanced for the first time in six sessions as an increase in Chinese imports boosted the outlook for demand.

Purchases of unwrought copper and copper products in China, the world’s biggest consumer, were the second highest on record in December, reaching 530,000 metric tons, customs data compiled by Bloomberg show. The rally in the price of the metal wasn’t enough to arrest share declines in miners including Freeport-McMoRan Inc., which traded near the lowest since 2000.

“The rising copper imports in China stopped the bleeding, so to speak,” Chris Robinson, a senior trader and risk manager at TopThird.com in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “People are trying to call a bottom in that copper move because they look at it as a bellwether for the whole Chinese economy.”

Copper for delivery in three months rose 0.9 percent to settle at $4,392 a ton ($1.99 a pound) at 5:51 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Aluminum, zinc, nickel and lead also gained on the LME, while tin dropped.

Shares of mining companies have dropped amid concern that metals demand will slide and supplies grow as China’s economy weakens. Phoenix-based Freeport fell 7.4 percent to $3.81 in New York. The stock dropped to the cheapest since 2000 on Tuesday, approaching an all-time low. The Bloomberg World Mining Index of 80 companies has slumped 13 percent in 2016 in the worst start to a year since data begins in 2004.

Copper futures for March delivery slid 0.2 percent to $1.956 a pound on the Comex in New York.

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