Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) –Copper stockpiles in bonded warehouses in China, the world's largest user of the metal, have dropped about 50 percent this year, adding to signs that demand is "strong," Glencore International Plc said.
The decline partly reflects tighter financing conditions facing "various market participants," Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore said in an earnings statement today. Copper has dropped 6.2 percent this year on speculation global growth is slowing, curbing demand for metals.
"Adjusting apparent demand for the significant inventory drawdowns we have seen in China during the first half 2011, one can conclude that real demand has been and continues to be strong," Glencore said. There are "mounting risks to supply, particularly in the copper concentrate market."
Glencore sold 17 percent less copper metal and concentrates in the first half than a year earlier, the company said in the statement. While demand for industrial metals in the U.S. and Europe was "constrained" by limited supply growth, German usage was "particularly strong," mainly because of stronger export demand, the company said.
"We now do see more buying existing in China, which should hopefully lead to the stronger second half of 2011," Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg said on a conference call today. While the first half of last year was "extremely robust" because of zinc and copper restocking, "we do not see the same restocking situation in the first half of 2011," he said.
Premiums buyers are prepared to pay for aluminum are being supported by inventory financing transactions and "logistics bottlenecks," Glencore said. The company said it will stay focused on warehousing activities.
Glencore's first-half alumina and aluminum sales rose about 16 percent to 6.5 million metric tons.
"Market conditions in aluminum have generally been favorable," the company said. Glencore said it will continue to seek "long-term" supply contracts with existing partners, while also seeking "new business opportunities with smelters being opened in the Gulf and elsewhere."