Copper steadies, iron ore price climbs on blockbuster Chinese imports
The price of copper regained its footing and iron ore prices continued the climb on Thursday after customs data showed imports of raw materials by China stayed robust in January after a strong 2017.
In brisk trading New York Comex copper for delivery in March were flat compared to Wednesday settlement price trading at $3.0855 a pound ($6,802 per tonne). Copper is still down sharply for the week after suffering its worst trading session of the year yesterday.
China's scrap imports could halve in 2018 boosting concentrate cargoes to another all-time high this year
While down slightly from December (traditionally a high-import month when Chinese traders try to meet annual volume targets), January customs data from China showed import volumes of unwrought copper rose 16% compared to last year totalling 450,000 tonnes during the month. 2017's annual total came in at 4.7m tonnes, down 5.7% from the year before.
The January jump in copper concentrate cargoes were even more impressive, increasing 25% from the same month last year to total 1.6m tonnes in January. China's copper concentrate imports reached a record high in November of 1.78m and for the year reached a new record of 17.3m tonnes.
The increased volumes over 2017 are indicative of Beijing's clampdown on copper scrap imports as part of the country's crackdown on pollution and consolidation of heavy industries. A recent report by BMO Capital Markets forecasts that China's scrap imports could halve in 2018 boosting concentrate cargoes to another all-time high this year.