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Chinese official trade data shows a drop in metals purchases

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(Kitco News) -  It is fair to say copper has had a decent run over the last few months but as China looks to ward off inflation their imports of the base metal fell 8% in May. Customs data released overnight showed record-high prices further eroded buying interest in the world’s top consumer of the metal.

The data from China indicated that that iron ore imports over May totaled 89.79mt, down almost 9% M/M, but up a little over 3% Y/Y. Unwrought copper and copper product imports fell 8% M/M to just below 446kt, whilst copper concentrate imports increased by 1.3% M/M to total 1.95mt in May.

According to Reuters data, copper inventories in Shanghai bonded warehouses SMM-CUR-BON meanwhile rose to 415,500 tonnes by the end of May, the most since July 2019.

As you can see from the daily copper futures price chart below the price rally has stalled in recent weeks. The price is now stuck in a range between $4.88/lb and $4.42/lb. A break on either side would be very telling at this stage. There is lots of positive rhetoric from analysts surrounding the ESG trade but with the U.S. infrastructure bill hanging over the market like a dark cloud, it is not sure if the U.S. can pick up the slack that China may have left following their war on commodities prices. 

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