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China Copper, Iron Ore Purchases Climb as Total Imports Increase

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May 8 (Bloomberg) -- China’s inbound shipments of copper surged 52 percent in April from a year earlier while iron ore jumped 24 percent amid an unexpected increase in the nation’s overall imports and exports for the month.

Copper purchases rose to 450,000 tons and iron ore climbed to 83.4 million tons, according to figures released today by customs administration. Strong demand after price declines helped fuel the gains, Ivan Szpakowski, a Shanghai-based analyst at Citigroup Inc., said in a report after the data.

Benchmark copper futures in London fell almost 10 percent in the four months through April, while an index of iron ore prices in China tumbled 22 percent. Chinese exports increased 0.9 percent from a year earlier, compared with estimates for a 3 percent drop in a Bloomberg survey, while imports gained 0.8 percent, helping put a floor under the slowdown in the economy.

“During price weakness, which we really saw particularly in copper and iron ore in March and April, you’ll get flurries of buying,” Joel Crane, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said by phone from Melbourne. The imports also probably reflected seasonal demand, he said.

Tenders in March for China’s state electricity grid also contributed to copper demand, Szpakowski said.

The State Reserves Bureau may have also made purchases that added to the buying, according to Sijin Cheng, a Singapore-based commodities analyst at Barclays Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Davis in Hong Kong at adavis150@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net Sungwoo Park