MELBOURNE May 23 China's imports of refined
copper in April slid by 41 percent from a year ago, trade data
showed on Tuesday, as traders found their buying power crimped
by tighter access to credit.
Refined copper imports fell to 202,645 tonnes last month,
the lowest since February, and were down by 18 percent from
For the January to April period, China's refined copper
imports have slumped by 31 percent from last year, partly after
China raised short-term interest rates and banks became more
reluctant to lend, traders and analysts said.
"In general, metals traders have been suffering from rising
financing costs, fierce competition and a slowing economy," said
JP Morgan in a report.
"While Chinese banks have anecdotally been maintaining
existing credit lines for metals-based companies, it has become
increasingly hard to get approval for new lines of credit."
China has raised short-term interest rates after its top
leadership identified the containment of financial risks and
asset bubbles as a top priority this year.
China continued to import more copper scrap, with imports in
the first four months of the year up 18 percent, after a surge
in prices late last year encouraged a flood of scrap metal back
into the market.
Copper concentrate imports also continued to grow in April,
up 7.7 percent from a year ago and in line with the year's
trend. A small decline in Chilean output, after a strike earlier
this year, was more than offset by a nearly 60 percent jump in
imports from Peru.
China's exports of refined copper fell in April from the
same month year earlier, but at nearly 125,000 tonnes are up 65
percent year to date.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian