Active trade data from the globe's top consumer helped push copper futures to their top price in about 21 days on Wednesday, spurring speculation about a resumption of strong demand for the base metal, according to Reuters.
But questions remain about how strongly the globe's economic health is advancing, which tempered gains for the reddish metal. Copper's wide variety of uses in manufacturing, construction and additional industry makes it sensitive to worldwide financial and economic developments.
Last month saw the Asian nation's exports and imports develop more than forecast, which tended to brighten prospects for the economy that trails only that of the U.S. for size.
"It's not surprising to see an uptick in prices after the recent sharp falls, especially given the encouraging data," economist Ross Strachan with Capital Economics told the news source on Wednesday. "But it is too soon to get overly optimistic about demand from China given the high level of inventories there for the likes of copper. There are still structural issues in China and you're unlikely to see rapid acceleration of growth."
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, copper futures shot up 2.35 percent, a 0.0775-cent increase to $3.38 per pound.
Also spurring the base metal to climb on Wednesday was stronger-than-forecast economic data released by Germany. The largest economy in the euro zone noted industrial production in March pushed past estimates issued by Reuters-surveyed economists.
Chinese data impacts copper futures
In April, imports of the reddish metal to China plunged 7.4 percent as compared to figures from one month prior. Consequently, the level scraped its lowest value in 22 months.
The Wall Street Journal reports domestic demand in the Asian nation fell and the country's leadership is working on watering down its property market.
The General Administration of Customs indicated on Wednesday that March imports of the base metal amounted to 295,799 metric tons, which represents the lowest amount since the first month of the third quarter of 2011.
Consumption of copper is tepid at this time, according to senior copper analyst Yang Changhua with Beijing Antaike. That is an indication about the state of China's economy as well as external markets.
"Supply is sufficient and domestic copper inventories have reached a record level as a result of last year's record imports and domestic production," he told the news source on Wednesday.
German data spurs climb
Bloomberg reports copper futures were on the upswing during the Tuesday trading session as the strongest economy in the euro zone released better-than-forecast economic data about its industrial production.
The data out of Germany indicated that the nation's production climbed for a second consecutive month in March.
The market just might be looking up in the short term after enduring some hiccups as of late, one investment officer told the news source.
"We've recovered from the nervousness that we saw in the market in April and we've built a nice base here," co-chief investment officer Peter Jankovskis with Oakbrook Investment LLC of Lisle, Illinois, told the news source on Tuesday. "We've gotten through the earnings season and we're turning to the phase in the quarter where economic reports will determine if the market can hold up."
But an air of optimism is widening its scope because of the strength of the economic data out of China.
One commodity trader said that strong data might cast out future economic performance.
"The Chinese trade data are the first sign in a while that the economy is doing better, and they are importing and exporting more commodities," states a Tuesday email to Bloomberg penned by Asian commodities trading director Pengjiang Fu with Newedge Group SA in London. "The Chinese economic figures have not been satisfactory for most of this year, so any change will have a positive reaction in commodities including metals prices."
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