Refined-copper imports by China, the biggest consumer, gained 1.8 percent in January ahead of a seasonal pick-up in demand as exports climbed for a fifth month.
Inbound shipments were 243,174 metric tons last month, compared with 238,828 tons in December, according to data e-mailed by the General Administration of Customs today. Exports climbed for a fifth month to 26,213 tons from 25,486 tons in December, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
More arrivals of the metal used in wire and cable are likely to add pressure on local prices that have slumped 4 percent this month as China’s manufacturing expanded at a slower pace in February than a month earlier. More traders may choose to ship the metal out of the nation as domestic stockpiles swell.
“A higher level of imports, coupled with huge local stockpiles in China, isn’t good news for prices,” Liang Lijuan, an analyst at Cofco Futures Co., said by phone from Beijing today. “There are still concerns regarding how strong the demand recovery will be in this spring.”
Net imports climbed to 216,961 tons in January from 213,342 tons in December, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the customs data.
The preliminary reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.4 in February, according to a statement from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics today. That compares with the 52.3 final reading for January and the 52.2 median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. A number above 50 indicates expansion.
Inventories tallied by the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 5.6 percent, the most in four months, to 207,709 tons last week, according to bourse data on Feb. 15. That was the highest level in a month. London Metal Exchange copper stockpiles rose to 424,350 tons as of Feb. 22, the highest since November 2011.
Copper-concentrate imports by China declined for the first time in seven months to 761,098 tons from 935,303 tons in December, the highest since Bloomberg started compiling the data in 2004.