* China copper concentrate imports surge 45 pct on year
* Aluminium exports at 420,000 tonnes, up 5 pct on month
* ShFE closed for holiday on Thursday, Friday (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)
By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE, June 8 (Reuters) - London copper climbed away from near its lowest level in a fortnight on Wednesday, as the dollar stayed weak and after China reported strong copper imports in May.
China’s copper imports jumped 19.4 percent from the same month a year ago to 430,000 tonnes last month, customs data showed on Wednesday.
“The normal seasonal slowdown in Chinese commodity imports didn’t materialise in May, with most commodities recording strong growth,” said analyst Daniel Hynes of ANZ in Sydney.
“It’s clear that selective stimulus measures in recent months have improved domestic demand, resulting in these strong import numbers. However, if credit conditions tighten in the near term (as we suspect), commodity imports should fall slightly in the coming months.”
Overall, trade data was mixed, as China’s exports fell more than expected given stubbornly weak global demand, but imports beat forecasts, pointing to improving domestic demand and adding to hopes that the world’s second-largest economy may be slowly stabilising.
China’s central bank also slashed its forecast for exports on Wednesday, predicting a second straight annual fall in shipments, but said the economy will still grow 6.8 percent this year.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had climbed 0.3 percent to $4,579 a tonne by 0717 GMT, paring 2.6-percent losses from the previous session, when prices plumbed their weakest in a fortnight at $4,552 and teetered near the lowest since February.
Shanghai Futures Exchange copper closed near its lows at 35,230 yuan a tonne, down 2.3 percent.
Chinese imports of copper concentrate jumped by 13 percent on the previous month and were up 45 percent from a year ago.
“Overall, we expect China’s copper imports to ease further in June as rising treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) and domestic smelting production will increase domestic supply and reduce import demand,” Argonaut Securities said in a note.
A surge of copper into Asian warehouses has revived concerns that China is shipping out its surplus metal, ramping downward pressure on international prices.
At the same time, however, a softer dollar was limiting losses on hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates in the coming months after last week’s disappointingly weak U.S. jobs report.
“As inventories continue to pick up across the board, and the dollar stays weak, that creates a copper market that goes nowhere,” said Jonathan Barratt, Ayers Alliance chief investment officer in Sydney.
The U.S. dollar hit its cheapest in more than four weeks against a basket of currencies on Wednesday, boosting the buying power of commodities users paying with other currencies.
Three month LME copper
Most active ShFE copper
Three month LME aluminium
Most active ShFE aluminium
Three month LME zinc
Most active ShFE zinc
Three month LME lead
Most active ShFE lead
Three month LME nickel
Most active ShFE nickel
Three month LME tin
Most active ShFE tin ($1 = 6.5701 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)