Copper Rebounds as Chinese Imports Rise, Nickel Climbs

Copper advanced, paring a second weekly drop, as imports by China increased and global inventories declined. Nickel rose as Indonesia was set to ban unprocessed ore exports.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange gained as much as 0.7 percent to $7,265.25 a metric ton and traded at $7,251.50 a ton at 4:56 p.m. in Seoul. The metal yesterday touched $7,209, the lowest intraday level since Dec. 19. Futures have still lost 0.9 percent this week.

China’s copper imports rose 29 percent to 441,291 tons last month from a year earlier, government data showed today. Total imports expanded 8.3 percent, while exports grew 4.3 percent. Stockpiles monitored by exchanges in London, New York and Shanghai are at the lowest since November 2012, with LME inventories dropping for a 46th day.

“Stockpiles are continuously falling while there haven’t been any physical signs from China that demand is retreating,” said Will Yun, a commodity analyst at Hyundai Futures Co. in Seoul. Yun said recent declines in copper were caused by concerns that China’s growth would slow.

Indonesia, the world’s largest mined nickel producer, detained at least 10 Chinese vessels loaded with ore as a ban on mineral shipments approaches after Jan. 12, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing a Chinese ship owner.

Nickel in London climbed as much as 1.3 percent, the most since Jan. 2, to $13,526 a ton before trading at $13,500.

Copper for delivery in March climbed 0.3 percent to $3.309 a pound in New York. Metal for delivery in March rose 0.3 percent to close at 51,360 yuan ($8,485) a ton in Shanghai.

On the LME, aluminum, zinc, lead and tin rose.

(Corrects reference to Jan. 9 low for copper futures in second sentence of second paragraph of story published at 4:59 p.m. Seoul time on Jan. 10.)
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