Thursday, June 10, 2010

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), Copper and China

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE:FCX) has been under pressure lately based on slowing imports of copper by China.

For May, the number of metric tons imported dropped to 396,712, a decline of 9.1 percent from April, and 6.1 percent from May of 2009.

While copper imports from China are up 8.2 percent in 2010 over 2009 at the same time last year, that is expected to continue falling through the rest of the year.

All of this is the result of urban centers in China whose property markets have skyrocketed, generating inflation pressure and concerns, which resulted in regulatory measures and the raising of interest rates to cool them off.

The rural areas aren't as affected, and so the idea of a Chinese housing bubble is overplayed, as they're located almost solely in the large cities.

Either way though, Freeport and others with strong exposure to copper will be under pressure for some time, at least as far as prior expectations of a China growth rate in the lower double-digits.

That will probably fall to around 7 to 8 percent, which many feel would a much healthier and predictable China.

There will be a temporary drop in raw material demand in China, but once things smooth out, companies should be able to make more accurate projections of sustainable growth.

But add this to problems in Europe and a stagnant American economy, and times are going to be tough for a while.

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