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BEIJING, July 13 (Reuters) - China’s imports of copper and copper products for June were unchanged with May at 390,000 tonnes, according to Reuters calculations based on official data, reflecting a decline in refined imports this year.
China imported 2.23 million tonnes of copper in the first half of this year, down 18.4 percent compared to same period last year, official data showed on Thursday. For the first five months of the year, China imported 1.840 tonnes of copper.
June’s monthly figures were also down by 7 percent on the 420,000 tonnes in the same month of last year.
China has imported less refined copper this year amid tough restrictions on dollar-denominated credit, and as buyers turned instead to cheaper scrap metal after a recovery in copper prices prompted a flood of scrap into the market earlier this year.
Copper prices scaled one-year highs above $6,200 a tonne in February, up 30 percent from late October lows.
“It is slightly better than my expectations,” said analyst Chris Wu of CRU in Beijing.
Wu said that China did not import a lot of cathodes in the first four months due to restrictions getting dollar-denominated credit lines, but that improved prospects for credit could improve copper imports in the coming month.
“For July I think it should continue to improve. I have heard from traders there is some appetite for dollar cathodes for end of July so I would think that July imports will be slightly better because state companies have access to the second half of this year’s credit.”
China’s copper concentrate imports stood at 1.41 million tonnes, recovering by 23 percent from May’s depressed levels when mining outages crimped supplies to the world’s top metals consumer and producer.
The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 3 percent in June, its biggest monthly gain since March as global exchange stocks fell, fuelling supply concerns.
But in the months ahead, broad industry sentiment is pointing to slackening demand at home and abroad, as authorities in China move to tackle property market risks and credit growth, though they are treading cautiously to avoid hurting the economy.
Reporting by Dominique Patton and Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin