NEW YORK Copper producer Aurubis AG said it is reasonably optimistic about copper demand this year, citing an expected rebound in China as well as a slow pickup in the United States and Germany even as parts of Europe continue to struggle.
Positive demand trends in North America and Asia in particular are expected to boost the companys rolled products business this year, although the Hamburg, Germany-based company said it does not expect to see noticeable effects of the pickup until the second half of 2013.
China is expected to lead the rebound, Aurubis said, citing Chinese expansions in a number of copper-intensive sectors, such as railways, electricity supply and home construction. "Momentum is expected first and foremost from China, the country with the greatest copper demand, which would like to promote economic growth through comprehensive infrastructure programs and other measures," the company said in its earnings report.
Copper demand in the United States and Germany also may improve, although likely at slower rates, Aurubis said. "There are many indications that the global economy will slowly recover somewhat, though it will be different from region to region."
The situation is grimmer in most of Europe, however. "We expect demand for copper products to remain weak in Europe over the next few months," the company said, noting that customers ordering habits in the copper and alloy strip market "are focused on the short term and are difficult to predict."
However, improving cable and wire industries in Europe could give the companys copper rod segment a lift, which would help compensate for expected declines in its automotive business, Aurubis said.
The company has scheduled maintenance shutdowns at its copper concentrate processing facilities in Hamburg in September and October, which will "significantly reduce the processed concentrate quantities in the fourth quarter."