Poor economic data and fear of a double-dip recession have helped suppress demand for industrial metals and copper exchange traded funds.

The iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSEArca: JJC) is down 9% in 2011. It’s an exchange traded note that tracks copper futures.

First Trust ISE Global Copper Index Fund (NYSEArca: CU) and Global X Copper Miners ETF (NYSEArca: COPX) are indexed to copper miner stocks, meanwhile. The ETFs have lost more than 15% year to date.

Still, copper prices and ETFs could find support from rising Chinese demand. Copper is seen as a leading indicator for the global economy because of its wide applications in industry and building.

Senior executives from trading houses, miners and banks believe that Chinese consumers are taking advantage of the recent pullback in commodities prices to rebuild stockpiles, reports Jack Farchy and Javier Blas for Financial Times. China makes up 38% of total global copper demand.

“China is significantly less pessimistic relative to people in the Western world,” commented Raymond Key, head of metals trading at Deutsche Bank. “On dips they are restocking, especially in copper.”

Along with the pullback in copper prices, the appreciation in the Chinese currency has also boosted copper purchases — a strong renminbi makes it cheaper to import commodities.

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