Copper Reaches One-Month High as China Producers May Deepen Cuts

  • Chinese smelters mull cutting output by more than 350,000 tons
  • China's refined copper imports rise to highest since 2014

Copper's Supply/Demand Problem: Bulls Versus Bears

Copper advanced to the highest in more than a month on the prospect for deeper cuts from producers in China, the world’s top consumer.

The Asian nation’s largest smelters, including Jiangxi Copper Co. and Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co., may lower output by more than the 350,000 metric tons already announced if their profitability deteriorates, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The chances of increased reductions comes amid signs of stabilizing demand. In November, the country’s imports of refined copper climbed to the highest since January 2014 as a slump in prices helped to spark buying.

“Production cuts and cost considerations lend some backbone to a market that has lacked exactly that for a while,” Michael Turek, the head of base metals at BGC Partners Inc. in New York, said in a note.

Copper futures for March delivery gained 1.3 percent to settle at $2.14 a pound at 1:13 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after reaching $2.144, the highest for a most-active contract since Nov. 16.

Chinese refined copper imports gained 4 percent to 358,727 tons in November from a month earlier, according to data from the nation’s customs office. Shipments were 12 percent higher than the same month last year, according to the authority.

Chile, the largest copper miner, cut its 2016 price forecast for the metal to $2.20 a pound, from $2.45 earlier.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper, aluminum, zinc, lead and nickel also gained, while tin declined.

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