China Nov copper imports rise on brighter demand outlook

By Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton

BEIJING, Dec 7 (Reuters) - China's copper imports climbed in November on expectations of better demand next year as the world's top metals consumer speeds up efforts to support its embattled property sector and begins to ease tough COVID-19 restrictions.

Imports of unwrought copper and copper products totalled 539,901.70 tonnes in November, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

The purchases, which included anode, refined, alloy and semi-finished copper products, represented an increase of 5.8% from imports of 510,402.3 tonnes in the same month last year.

A series of policies to support China's property sector, which accounts for a quarter of the world's second-biggest economy, including offering cheap loans to support developers' bonds, have brightened the demand outlook for the metal, which is mainly used in power and construction sectors.

China has also begun easing some anti-virus curbs in recent days, following unprecedented street protests, but analysts warn the economy faces a long and bumpy recovery.

Strengthened sentiment was reflected in rising copper prices.

Benchmark copper prices on the London Metals Exchange CMCU3 LME copper jumped 10.6% in November, the biggest monthly gain since April 2021. It registered an average of $8,239 a tonne last month.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SCFcv1 averaged at 64,790 yuan ($9,280.64) a tonne in November, up 4.1% from the prior month.

The increased inflow of cargoes came despite the closing of the arbitrage window between Shanghai and London.

“We see a jump in import through Shanghai over the second half of November, though closed price arbitrage made many of the import go to bonded warehouses instead of flowing to domestic market, said Lynn Zhao, a Shanghai-based metal analyst at Macquarie Bank.

"So bonded copper stocks also climbed over the past few weeks,” she added.

China brought in 5.36 million tonnes of copper in the first 11 months this year, up 8.5% from the same period a year ago. ($1 = 6.9812 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Reporting by Siyi Liu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill

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