July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Copper production by China, the world's largest metals consumer, gained to a record in June as imports slumped and demand remained robust.
Output of the refined metal gained 26 percent to 422,000 metric tons, the statistics bureau said today. That's a monthly record, according to analysts.
Copper has fallen about 10 percent this year on concern that weaker growth in China, budget cuts in Europe and limited job gains in the U.S. may derail the global recovery. China's economic expansion eased to 10.3 percent in the second quarter, the statistics bureau also reported today.
"The jump in output helped to offset the drop in imports last month and signals demand by domestic consumers is still good," said Fang Junfeng, an analyst at China International Futures (Shanghai) Co. The metal is used to make wires and pipes.
China's imports of copper fell for a third month in June, dropping 17 percent to 328,231 tons, as concerns that the global economic recovery may stall cut orders. That compares with May's 396,712 tons, and is 31 percent lower than a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations.
"Expectations are for demand to ease in the second half, which is probably going to be reflected in lower imports and domestic output in July," said Wen Jinghai, an analyst at Bohai Futures Co.
Three-month copper futures traded at $6,640 a ton at 2:48 p.m. in Singapore, 26 percent higher than 12 months ago. The metal had the biggest annual increase in more than two decades last year as China boosted imports to a record on $586 billion of stimulus spending and state stockpiling.