Chinese copper imports
After being subdued in November and December, Chinese imports bounced back by 17.3% YoY (year-over-year) in the United States to 1.9 million metric tons of copper ore and concentrates, the second-highest level on record. Unwrought copper imports also surged, by 8.1% YoY to 479,000 metric tons.
Higher Chinese copper imports should allay fears of Chinese copper demand deteriorating. Although copper ore imports should rise along with Chinese smelting capacity and the ban on copper scrap imports, the data still looks positive for copper miners.
China is the biggest copper importer, and its copper imports are indicative of its copper demand. Copper mining is concentrated in Latin America, where BHP (BHP), Southern Copper (SCCO), and Antofagasta (ANTO) have mines.
Thanks to record Chinese copper imports, Freeport stock has risen today. This year is a time of transition from Freeport as its ramps up its Grasberg underground operations. To learn more, read Why 2019 Looks to Be a Tough Year for Freeport-McMoRan.