BEIJING (Commodity Online): Chinese imports of refined copper increased by 12% in February, 2010 over a month earlier as the inbound shipments kept rising on the back of improved demand and steadily falling scrap supplies. Analsts believed that copper prices may get a boost on the increased imports by China.

Beijing based customs office recorded 220,530 tonnes of inbound shipments during the given period. In January this year, shipments were recorded at 196,926 tonnes in January but were down by 19% from the corresponding period last year.

Copper purchases may rebound as China runs down inventories in bonded warehouses. Traders store shipments in a bonded zone before paying duties to the government. The rise in copper imports would help prices firm up in the international markets.

Copper prices in China have traded with a premium to those in London for most of this year. The premium was about CNY 500 per tonne on March 19th 2010 down from this year's high of CNY 3,000 in February.

The increase in imports was no surprise given the favorable arbitrage. A continuing shortage of scrap meant more demand for the refined metal. However, China's scrap copper imports reeled lower during the same period, which fell from 337,443 tonnes in January to 276,634 tonnes in February.