Copper Imports by China Climb as Demand May Recover in March

Copper imports by China, the world’s largest user, advanced by 2.9 percent in January from a month earlier as trading firms bought the metal before Lunar New Year in preparation for a recovery in demand in March.

Inbound shipments of refined metal, alloy and products were 351,000 metric tons last month, the General Administration of Customs said on its website today. That compared with 341,211 tons in December and 413,964 tons a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Some trading firms have acted early to prepare for a seasonal increase of consumption and avoid being affected by the long holidays in February,” Cao Yanghui, an analyst at Nanhua Futures Co., said by phone from Hangzhou. The public holidays are from Feb. 11 to Feb. 15 in China.

A government-backed survey of purchasing managers released on Feb. 1 showed manufacturing expanded for a fourth month in January and a separate gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose to the highest level in two years, signs the recovery may be gaining momentum. Copper is Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s preferred base metal in 2013, partially because of its exposure to Chinese construction, analyst Eugene King wrote in a report on Feb. 6.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange climbed 0.5 percent to $8,242.50 a ton at 3:57 p.m. in Beijing and gained 3.9 percent this year.

China’s total exports rose 25 percent in January from a year earlier while imports increased 28.8 percent, resulting in a trade surplus of $29.15 billion, customs said today.

Scrap-copper imports totaled 380,000 tons in January, down from 440,000 tons in December, customs data showed. Imports of unwrought aluminum and products were 69,024 tons, while exports of unwrought aluminum at 50,431 tons, the data showed.

— With assistance by Feiwen Rong

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