(Adds analyst's comments, details of data)
* July arrivals at 340,000 T vs 350,000 T in June
* Jan-Jul imports increase 18.7 percent on-year to 2.86 mln T
By Polly Yam
HONG KONG, Aug 8 China's copper arrivals fell 2.9 percent month-on-month in July, falling for a third straight month, after small importers delayed term refined metal shipments.
Arrivals of copper anode, refined metal, alloy and semi-finished copper products stood at 340,000 tonnes in July, the lowest since April 2013, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday.
The inflows dropped further from 350,000 tonnes in June when arrivals hit a 14-month low.
But in the first seven months of 2014, imports rose 18.7 percent year-on-year to 2.86 million tonnes, the data showed.
Traders said improved price differentials between Shanghai and the London Metal Exchange had boosted spot refined copper purchases by large importers in late June and early July.
But small importers have delayed some term refined copper shipments since June as local banks cut lending following a probe into an alleged metal financing scam.
Yao Yao, analyst at Maike Futures Brokerage Co Ltd, said financing importers had been cut off following the probe at Qingdao port.
Domestic consumption had not been strong in July amid seasonally weak demand, Yao added.
But imports in August may rise as supply in the domestic market was tightening, which could push up local prices and spur spot imports, she said, adding some importers may also increase purchases ahead of seasonally peak demand in September-October. (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)