For the first time in nearly one-and-a-half years, exports fell in China, the world's largest user of the industrial metal. That economic data initially harmed the performance of copper, which slipped at the beginning of the trade session.
Exports from the country that consumes roughly 40 percent of the globe's supply of copper fell more than 3 percent last month as compared to one year prior, representing the first losses since January 2012. Imports to the Asian nation fell 0.7 percent.
Investors and analysts closely watch the Asian nation's import figures for copper because it is viewed as a gauge of the country's economic health.
But chatter started growing louder about the possibility of the People's Bank of China moving to relax its monetary policy. That, in turn, would increase demand for copper, which has myriad uses in construction, manufacturing and additional industry.
"The PBoC is likely weighing the benefits and costs of a benchmark rate cut, which we think may be increasingly likely given weak economic growth," economists with Barclays said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
At 12:35 p.m. on Wednesday, copper futures increased 0.91 percent, a 0.028-cent rise to $3.0925 per pound.
Fed prepares for release of June minutes
The U.S. dollar slipped against its top rivals in anticipation of the minutes released by the U.S. Federal Reserve from the June policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. An element of edginess also was apparent as chairman Ben Bernanke was preparing for a speaking engagement later in the day.
The U.S. trails only China for consumption of copper.
The industrial metal is forecast to solidify this month after having endured a rough June, according to some analysts.
"The markets have moved quite a bit lower over the course of June and have likely priced in a good amount of the negative news that has come our way over the past few weeks," analyst Ed Meir with INTL FCStone told Reuters on Wednesday. "They are therefore due for a modest bounce from here."
Chinese imports grow
The Wall Street Journal reports China last month imported 379,951 metric tons of copper and copper alloy, representing an increase of 9.7 percent as compared to the same period during 2012, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs.
Additional factors that influenced copper imports to climb last month were regulatory changes and tight domestic inventories, according to analysts.
When the base metal was traded on the Futures Exchange of Shanghai, it had an average premium ranging from $30 to $50 to cash copper on the London Metal Exchange. IN turn, that made imports a stronger option as compared to purchasing it on the domestic market in China, according to traders.
"The arbitrage window between Shanghai and London opened quite a bit larger last month, and the opportunity for traders to make profits from arbitrage was clearly stronger this year," copper analyst Li Donghua with GF Futures in Guangzhou told The Wall Street Journal.
But one purchasing manager foresees a rough patch laying ahead.
"I don't think the domestic market really needs all the metal that's been imported," a purchasing manager at a copper cable manufacturer in Zhejiang province told The Wall Street Journal. "Some market players may have just chosen to hoard the metal because of cheaper prices."
Climb aids increase from week lows
Bloomberg reports the reddish metal's performance on Wednesday helped it advance from its lowest value in about one week.
Advances for the base metal on Wednesday were as high as 0.6 percent after having scraped its lowest value since late last month.
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