China's Copper Stockpiles Hit Record High

China's Copper Stockpiles Hit Record High

Lian Zhang
1 min read

China's Record Copper Stockpiles Signal Weak Demand and Market Uncertainty

China has seen a surge in copper stockpiles, reaching a record high of over 300,000 tons by the end of May, signaling potential challenges in the world's largest market. The unexpected buildup, attributed to a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing and a housing crisis, has caused copper prices to drop below $10,000 per ton on the London Metal Exchange. Furthermore, the negative Yangshan premium, which grants Chinese buyers discounts on imported copper, reflects weaker domestic demand. This shift in sentiment is expected to lead to a prolonged consolidation period rather than a rapid price turnaround.

Key Takeaways

  • China's copper stockpiles exceed 300,000 tons, a record high for end-of-May, signaling weak demand.
  • Copper prices on the LME have dropped below $10,000 per ton due to weak Chinese manufacturing and housing sectors.
  • The negative Yangshan premium indicates Chinese buyers are securing discounts on imported copper, reflecting poor demand.
  • Global copper market sentiment is shifting from bullish to cautious, with ample supply and weak demand.
  • U.S. economic slowdown and potential Federal Reserve interest rate cuts could further depress copper prices, with forecasts as low as $7,000 to $7,500 per ton.


The significant surge in China's copper stockpiles reflects a dramatic slowdown in manufacturing and a housing crisis, leading to diminished domestic demand and declining prices. The negative Yangshan premium emphasizes weak demand, impacting global market sentiment and potentially causing further declines in copper prices due to a U.S. economic slowdown and potential Federal Reserve rate cuts. This situation will have widespread implications for copper miners, manufacturers, and investors on a global scale.

Did You Know?

  • Yangshan Premium: This refers to the premium or discount at which imported copper is traded in China's Yangshan port compared to the international price. A negative Yangshan premium indicates weak domestic demand for copper, in contrast to the typically strong demand reflected by a positive premium.
  • London Metal Exchange (LME): The LME serves as the leading marketplace for non-ferrous metals, including copper, and is considered a benchmark for global metal prices.
  • Federal Reserve Interest Rate Cuts: The Federal Reserve utilizes interest rate cuts to stimulate the economy, potentially affecting copper prices by influencing the value of the U.S. dollar and global commodity pricing.

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