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Global Copper Demand Contracts as Slowdown Looms

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Global copper demand

Previously in this series, we looked at global copper production. In this part of the series, we’ll explore the trend in global copper demand as estimated by the ICSG (International Copper Study Group). It’s important to note that the ICSG provides apparent demand estimates. You can define apparent demand as production minus exports plus imports. Apparent demand is a supply-side estimate and includes changes in inventory, along with the real underlying demand.

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Demand falls

According to the ICSG, global apparent copper demand fell 1.5%, or 250,000 metric tons, in the first nine months of 2015, as compared to the corresponding period last year. Apparent demand fell 4% and 8% YoY in the European Union and Japan, respectively, in the first nine months of the year. Apparent demand in the Americas rose 1.5% over this period. The ICSG provides a consolidated estimate for the Americas. We don’t get the breakdown of US (DIA) copper demand in the ICSG report.

Chinese demand grows

According to the ICSG, Chinese apparent copper demand rose 0.5% YoY in the first nine months of the year. With the exclusion of China, global apparent copper demand fell 3.5% over this period. The ICSG estimated that China’s apparent copper demand in fiscal 2015 would be similar to last year’s level. The slowdown in Chinese copper demand negatively impacts copper miners including Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), Glencore (GLNCY), Rio Tinto (RIO), and BHP Billiton (BHP).

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss what falling crude oil prices could mean for Freeport-McMoRan’s strategic plans.

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