China’s end-users storing imported copper in warehouses because, they say, production is at 70% rate of what it was last year.
The gold expectations bar in the Chinese copper imports chart is elevated because producers seem to have scheduled lots of deliveries for February 2012 but, like every other no good Chinese datapoint, blame goes on the Lunar Year.
The problem is that the Lunar Year is done with and there is no pick up in action, so some are trimming their March orders, while others are delaying shipments.
Others who are said to be operating at 70% rate as compared to last year are storing the excess copper supply is stored in Shanghai warehouses.
Though it would be important to see what happens to this production utilization rate, in the short term the pile at the Shanghai is estimated at 480,000 tons, still shy from 700,000 thought to have been stuck in there last year around this time just before copper prices tanked.
Producers, however, don’t mind storing their excess inputs in the warehouse.
“We don’t care if the copper sits there for months because we can use it as collateral for U.S. dollar loans. That will give us cash,” the product producer manager said.
These warehouse stocks trade at a $50-70 premium to cash London, but that is down from $120-140 that was in January indicating that a pile of copper is gathering in Shanghai.