BEIJING, Oct. 16 -- China imported 399,052 tons of unwrought copper and copper products in September, up 23 percent over August, which was the first monthly growth since July, according to statistics released by China Customs.
Meanwhile, the accumulated imports of unwrought copper and copper products from January to September totaled 3,367,072 tons, up 77 percent on a year ago.
Earlier, the market generally expected that September copper imports would slip to around 300,000 tons.
The unexpected copper import rise, which signals that domestic copper demand in China is increasing, drove up the copper contracts and hence other nonferrous contracts on the Shanghai Futures Exchange sharply on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Thursday, the most active copper contract SHFE cu 1001 ended 0.59 percent higher at 49,127 yuan/ton, aluminum contract 1001 ended 18 yuan higher at 14,953 yuan/ton, and zinc contract 1001 ended 1 yuan higher at 16,051 yuan/ton.
However, copper prices on China's spot market have seen little change since the imports figure came out.
Some market analysts warn that copper prices will probably fluctuate further in China in the coming weeks, as the country generally still has excess supply.
According to SMM (Shanghai Nonferrous Metals), China's copper smelters had a combined 85 percent production capacity in operation in September, up 4.3 percent from August and 8.9 percent higher than last year's same period. Furthermore, the large-scale smelters were almost all in full production, a fact explained by the need to fulfill this year's annual production plan, since it is approaching the yearend.