Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The copper market has turned 180 degrees in under six months.
Back in the summer, I was concerned that massive stockpiles of copper on China's wharves would hurt the copper price. Since China consumes around 40% of the world's copper supply, it's a huge factor in the market.  
But China's manufacturers must have worked through the supply, because it just set a monthly import record in November. That's hugely bullish news for copper producers... and their shareholders.  
Take a look at the chart below. In November, China imported more copper than ever before...
China's Copper Imports Reach an All-Time High
Since 2009, when the world economy slowed, China's copper imports have been stuck between 450,000 and 700,000 metric tons per month. But by last November, imports nearly doubled from the bottom of their range.
That confirms what I told you last month:  
China's manufacturers' purchasing index (a measure of growth or contraction in that sector of China's economy) hit a 13-month high. And China's exports are once again rising. That should take care of China's copper surplus. So while September's rally in the copper price was premature, the recent rise, supported by data from China, looks like the real thing.
Copper already hit a new short-term high at the beginning of the year. This is solid news for copper-producing companies... 
The base-metal mining sector has struggled since 2011. Large miners like Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) are down more than 30% from their 2011 highs. Given these losses and global economic worries, there's plenty of pessimism toward the sector.