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The spot copper price fell six cents to US$1.467/lb and three-month copper fell nine cents to US$1.385/lb Thursday on the London Metal Exchange despite a 2,825t drop in inventories to 46,400t.
Nonetheless, Barclays Capital noted that copper prices are holding above US$1.383/lb, supported by the ongoing LME inventory drawdowns and the suspension of Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton's (NYSE: BHP) Tintaya copper mine in Peru.
Peru's third largest copper mine, Tintaya produced 118,000t of copper in concentrates and cathodes last year. Tintaya was halted Wednesday until security returns after violent protests hit the operation.
On the Comex, three month copper was up over two cents to US$1.483/lb. The main factor mentioned by traders was inventory drawdowns on LME and Comex, that fell 897 short tons to 23,248.
Net imports of refined copper to China slowed by 20% to 96,600t in April year-on-year and are down 17.5% to 413,600t in the first four months of the year, reported Barclays. China's consumption of copper has powered the rise in copper prices over the last year.
However, domestic copper production in China rose 13.1% in April, leaving apparent consumption down just 2.2%, while year-to-date consumption is unchanged from the same period 2004, said Barclays, drawing on latest Chinese trade data.