China's unwrought copper imports rose 9.1% in December from the previous month to their highest since March 2016, customs data showed on Tuesday, Reuters reported, with improving industrial activity and dwindling scrap metal supply lifting demand.
Imports of copper concentrate came in at 1.928 million tonnes, down 10.6% from November's record 2.157Mt but up 31.8% on December 2018, the wire service said.
Meanwhile, the SAVANT Global Copper Smelting Index which was launched in October showed a small increase in global activity from November.
Despite a strong first half of December, the index ended the month broadly flat due to a reduction in Chinese smelting activity, which was said to be primarily related to declines in activity observed at Shandong Fangyuan.
"The index readings indicate that copper demand is relatively robust, particularly when considering the Christmas holiday effect and the well-publicised credit issues in China," Marex Spectron's global head of analytics Dr Guy Wolf said.
"With the Chinese New Year holiday period about to begin, it will be interesting to see what readings are observed as we exit that seasonal quiet period."
The index monitors up to 90% of copper smelting capacity around the world and put the December average at 88.9, up from November's 88.6.