China Copper Imports Rise to Nine-Month High on Arbitrage

China’s copper imports climbed to a nine-month high in June as traders took advantage of lower prices in London than Shanghai.

Arrivals of the refined metal, alloy and products were 379,951 metric tons last month, the General Administration of Customs said on its website today. That was the highest since September, and 5.9 percent higher from May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Prices in Shanghai were about $73 a ton higher than in London on average in June, based on calculations by Bloomberg to account for currencies, shipping, tax and warehousing. Money-market rates in China surged in late June, which also encouraged imports for use as collateral to get credit.

“There should still be a lot of financing deals, plus good arbitrage opportunities,” Xu Liping, an analyst at HNA Topwin Futures Co., said by phone from Shanghai. “But there is also still concern about real demand, given weak macro economic data.”

Copper for delivery in November on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1.5 percent to 48,170 yuan ($7,851) a ton at 12:30 p.m. local time, while the three-month contract on the LME was at $6,700. That left arbitrage trade unattractive today to the tune of about $23.

The nation’s total exports and imports both unexpectedly declined in June, with overseas shipments dropping for the first time since January 2012.

Copper output in China, the biggest producer of the refined metal, climbed to a record 567,892 tons in May, according to data from Beijing Antaike Information Development Co.

Imports of scrap copper were 340,000 tons in June, down from 360,000 tons in May, today’s customs data showed.

— With assistance by Helen Sun

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