Arrivals of unwrought copper, which includes anode, refined, and semi-finished copper products stood at 470,000 tonnes last month, the General Administration of Customs said Friday, the highest level since December 2016.
According to China's General Administration of Customs, imports grew by 17.7% in U.S. dollar terms, above the 17.2% increase of October and forecasts for a smaller gain of 11.3%.
China's overseas shipments unexpectedly jumped as global demand remained firm, while import growth remained steady. According to calculations from Reuters, that was the second-highest monthly total on record.
Iron ore imports "were not necessarily just by steel mills but could have been also purchased by traders", said Helen Lau at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.
In dollar terms, exports advanced 12.3% year-over-year in November, well above the 5.9% rise economists had forecast. Imports increased 15.6 per cent, to leave a trade surplus of 263.6 billion yuan (S$54 billion).
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Steel exports rose from the previous month to 5.35 million tonnes in November, data showed.
Completing a hat-trick of data beats, the trade surplus swelled to $40.21 billion on the back of the acceleration in exports, up from $38.17 billion in October and ahead of forecasts for a decline to $35 billion.
The rebound in imports come as China's yuan has fallen 2.8 percent against the dollar since hitting its 2017 peak on September 8.
"Chinese trade looks to have been surprisingly strong last month".
While exports are contributing to China's economic growth once again, global investors have been more focused on its strong appetite for industrial commodities such as iron ore and coal, which is boosting resources prices worldwide.