China’s November copper imports climbed 10.1% from the prior month to the highest in almost two years, data showed on Thursday, as dwindling stocks and a stronger yuan bolstered buying interest.
Imports of unwrought copper and copper products, used widely in the construction, transport and power sectors, totalled 550,566 metric tons, according to the General Administration of Customs. That was the highest since December 2021 when shipments reached 589,165 tons.
The data includes anode, refined, alloy and semi-finished copper.
Strong orders from China’s State Grid and the renewable energy sector boosted operating rates among the country’s copper cable and wire makers to a record high of 92% last month, according to information provider Shanghai Metals Market (SMM).
Robust consumption in the world’s biggest metal consumer has reduced inventories in the market, with copper stocks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange hitting a multi-year low last week.
Importing material also became cheaper for buyers as the Chinese currency recorded its biggest monthly gain in a year against the weakening dollar last month.
The Yangshan copper premium, an indicator of demand for imports, rose to $107.50 per ton on Nov. 28, a one-year high.
“The open arbitrage window led to more imports,” said He Tianyu, a Shanghai-based analyst at consultancy CRU, who added that the high premium in China also boosted demand.
Low stocks drove the copper premium in the spot market to 725 yuan per ton on Nov. 20, a more than one-year high.
China’s imports of copper ore and concentrate rose slightly from last year’s 2.41 million metric tons to 2.44 million tons this November, customs data showed. Total imports in the first 11 months were up 8.4% from a year earlier, at 25.07 million tons.
(By Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Edmund Klamann)