China’s Copper Imports Rebound From Lowest in 20 Months in March

Copper imports by China rebounded in March from a 20-month low in February, when shipments to the largest user dropped because of a week-long holiday.

Imports of refined metal, alloy and products were 319,603 metric tons last month, the General Administration of Customs said on its website today. That compares with 298,102 tons in February and 462,182 tons a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“More working days and higher prices in Shanghai relative to London contributed to the increase,” Pang Juan, an analyst at Jinrui Futures Co., said by phone from Shenzhen. Jinrui is a unit of China’s largest producer, Jiangxi Copper Co. “We expect more arrivals in April as better prices should have resulted in more orders,” Pang said, adding that shipping can take a month or so.

Higher arrivals are likely to raise local inventories and may limit any rally in prices as China’s domestic production expands. Stockpiles tallied by the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell to 241,943 tons last week after climbing to 247,591 tons at the end of March, the highest since 2003, when Bloomberg started to compile the data.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.4 percent to $7,602 a ton as of 11:02 a.m. Shanghai time. This was about $38 lower than the SHFE August contract at 55,330 yuan ($8,932), including a 17 percent value-added tax, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Inventories at bonded warehouses in China declined 100,000 tons in the first quarter, and may drop a further 80,000-100,000 tons in April to about 550,000-600,000 tons by early May, Macquarie Group Ltd. said in a research report on April 4.

Orders to remove the metal from LME warehouses in Asia, known as the canceled warrants, surged to 61,625 tons yesterday, the highest since October 2011. Total canceled warrants for LME copper jumped to a record 151,800 tons.

Scrap-copper imports by China rose to 350,000 tons in March from 300,000 tons in February, according to today’s customs data. Inbound shipments of unwrought aluminum and products totaled 69,845 tons last month, while exports of unwrought aluminum were 50,671 tons.

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