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Antaike raises China's 2020 refined copper imports forecast

XIAMEN, China Sept 11 (Reuters) - Research group Antaike raised its 2020 forecast for China’s refined copper imports for the second time this year, amid record shipments of the metal in June and July.

Antaike, the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association’s research arm, pegged refined copper imports this year at 3.8 million tonnes, according to a presentation by analyst He Xiaohui viewed by Reuters.

The prediction is up from He’s previous 2020 forecast of 3.5 million tonnes, and 2019 imports of 3.55 million tonnes.

China, the world’s biggest copper consumer, imported record amounts of refined copper in June and July as a spread between London and Shanghai copper prices made it cheaper to buy overseas metal in a so-called arbitrage.

Increased manufacturing activity and a shrinking quota for scrap copper also contributed to the rise in imports for both months.

He added that China’s State Grid, the world’s single-largest copper buyer, will increase its investments in fixed assets this year, a key source of copper consumption.

The increase in fixed asset investments in 2020 from 418.6 billion yuan planned at the start of the year to 460 billion yuan are inclined towards ultra-high-voltage electricity transmission, new energy vehicle charging piles and digital infrastructure projects, according to He’s presentation.

He also revised his 2020 outlook for China’s consumption of copper concentrate, slightly lowering it to 7.12 million tonnes from a previous forecast of 7.25 million tonnes, but a 4.5% increase from consumption in 2019.

Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Kim Coghill