China’s crude steel output was 7% higher in December, the first increase in six months, Reuters reported. The rise is attributed to Beijing’s US$586 billion stimulus package, which includes plans for heavy spending on infrastructure. Analysts said that the rise also reflected mills reopening after suspending production due to low steel prices. Other new data showed that China’s copper demand rose 7% in 2008. Growth was slower than 2007, which saw 36% growth in copper demand, and is expected to further slow in 2009. Copper demand rose 3.9% in December on strong imports, which are expected to continue.