COLUMN-China’s Nov commodity imports confirm trends; copper the outlier – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – December 10, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 11 (Reuters) – The sharp rebound in China’s imports of major commodities in November was more of a return to normal service than any sign of a resurgence in demand in the world’s largest buyer of natural resources.

Certainly, it’s appealing to look at the November numbers and conclude that China’s appetite for commodities is storming ahead, but that ignores the reality that the data was affected by the week-long holidays in early October.

In the past three months, China’s commodity imports were extremely strong in September, with record iron ore purchases, unbelievably weak in October and now roaring back to strength in November.

A better tactic in understanding the dynamics of China’s commodity imports is to average out the past three months and then try to discern the trends. Iron ore imports were 94.5 million tonnes in November, up from October’s 74.5 million but below September’s all-time high of 102.8 million.

The average monthly imports for the three months are 90.6 million tonnes, which is slightly higher than the 90.1 million they have averaged so far in 2017.

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