China's October exports and imports growth slowed

Smog over the Forbidden City Beijing authorities are curbing emissions from polluting industries PA Images

Smog over the Forbidden City Beijing authorities are curbing emissions from polluting industries PA Images

Copper hit an intra-day high of $3.25 a pound, the highest since February 2014, mid-October and year-to-date gains for the bellwether metal remain above 23%.

In dollar terms, exports climbed 6.9 percent year-over-year in October, data from the General Administration of Customs revealed.

China's exports in the first 10 months of the year fell 7.7% from the same period a year earlier, while imports dropped 7.5%.

Meanwhile, imports surged 17.2 percent in October from a year ago, faster than the expected growth of 17.0 percent. China imported 88.7 million tonnes in August.

The risk is that October's shock number is over-interpreted by market participants, when in reality it is little more than a statistical anomaly.

Reuters report usual seasonal factors are also behind the slump.

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Imports grew 17.2 per cent year on year last month, beating forecast of 16 per cent growth but slightly slower than the 18.7 per cent rise in September.

While the vessel-tracking numbers don't align exactly with customs numbers as they exclude overland imports from neighbours such as Mongolia and Russian Federation, they have been a consistently accurate predictor of the official figures.

Declines of these magnitudes make it all the more likely that October was pay back for an extremely strong September.

Iron ore imports are likely to moderate over winter as authorities mandate steel output cuts in a bid to limit pollution from coal-powered industries. China consumes almost 50% global copper output.

"The steel production cuts should be the main reason (behind the October drop in imports) but at the same time because we have a National Day holiday in October and if you look at historical data, October imports are usually lower", said Wang Di, consultant at CRU in Beijing.

"Lower imports reflected less purchases from independent refineries as many of them are running out of crude quotas for this year", said Li Yan, oil analyst with Zibo Longzhong Information Group.

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