China revealed the size of its copper inventories for the first time, shedding light on one of the industry’s most opaque markets, the Financial Times reported. The country’s copper stocks stood at about 1.9 million tons as of the end of last year, according to the state-backed China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association. This figure was up from 1.218 million tons in 2009 and 282,000 tons in 2008, excluding stores kept at warehouses of the Shanghai Futures Exchange. The figure is higher than annual US consumption, and significantly more than the 1-1.5 million tons industry insiders had expected. However, high stocks suggest that real demand in China may have been less than thought in recent years. Even so, many are hoping that continued Chinese demand will buttress commodity prices through the downturn, particularly in the zinc market, a commodity used in steel production which has fallen 28% in recent months.