China copper imports hit 13-month high in November on improved factory activity

For the first 11 months of 2019, imports of unwrought copper were down 8.5% from a year earlier at 4.45 million tonnes

China's copper imports rose 12.1% in November from the previous month to their highest in more than a year, as an unexpected improvement in the manufacturing sector drove up demand.

Imports of unwrought copper including anode, refined and semi-finished copper products into China stood at 483,000 tonnes last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday. That was the highest since September 2018. The imports were up from 431,000 tonnes in October, and 5.9% higher than 456,000 in November 2018.

For the first 11 months of 2019, imports of unwrought copper were down 8.5% from a year earlier at 4.45 million tonnes. The higher monthly number comes as factory activity in China, the world's top copper consumer, improved unexpectedly in the manufacturing sector in November, as demand rose on stimulus measures to steady growth.

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China's overall copper imports during the fourth quarter are expected to rise, especially amid low inventory levels, Minmetals and Jingyi Futures metals analyst Wu Kunjin said. "The fourth quarter is the traditional consumer season for household appliances and property production," Wu said ahead of the data release.

Copper stocks in bonded warehouses in China SMM-CUR-BON have been declining since June and were at 245,500 tonnes on Nov. 30, the lowest since at least June 2013, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. November imports of copper concentrate CNC-COPEOR-IMP, or partially processed ore, came in at 2.157 million tonnes, up 12.7% from 1.914 million tonnes in October and up 27% on the year. Copper concentrate imports for January-November stood at 20.11 million tonnes, up 10.2% year-on-year.

Exports of unwrought aluminium, including primary metal, alloy and semi-finished products, stood at 452,000 tonnes in November, according to customs data. This is up 4.9% from October's exports of 431,000 tonnes, and a 14.7% fall year-on-year. January-November exports from China, the world's top aluminium producer, were at 5.25 million tonnes, down 0.3% from a year ago.