Are bullish copper statistics misleading?

Focus on Futures: Copper

Global warehouse stock levels tell a bit of a different story, though. Although not necessarily a completely reliable indicator – because it’s hard to know how much of warehouse inventory has already been sold forward – it should be somewhat disconcerting to bulls to see stocks rising at all three major exchange warehouse systems. Chart 2 shows combined LME, Shanghai, and COMEX stocks have increased since this past summer by over 40% to the highest level in almost a year. Regardless of the broader recovery in copper demand indicated by the ICSG data, this market’s consumption fortunes are tied to China. The most recent import data show that Chinese imports of refined copper rose 13.5% from October, but were down 27.7% year-over-year (Chart 3).

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