* Iron ore imports rise 11 pct from April's six-month low
* Strong profits at mills lift appetite for iron ore
* China steel exports up 7.6 pct from April
By Josephine Mason and Manolo Serapio Jr
BEIJING/MANILA, June 8 China's iron ore imports
rose 5.5 percent in May from a year earlier, recovering from a
six-month low in April, as mills in the top steelmaking nation
scooped up more raw material as they posted strong profits.
Imports of iron ore last month reached 91.52 million tonnes,
according to data from the General Administration of Customs on
Thursday, up from 86.75 million tonnes a year ago and April's
82.23 million tonnes, the lowest since October 2016.
Analysts said the total was still near historical highs as
mills continue to produce large volumes of steel to take
advantage of decent margins.
"Profitability at steel mills was good in May especially for
rebar producers," said Wang Di, analyst at CRU consultancy in
"I don't think there will be a slump in iron ore imports
going forward because while inventory at ports is very high,
inventory at mills is relatively low."
Last month, Chinese iron ore futures plunged 15
percent for their worst monthly performance in more than a year,
with investors liquidating long positions amid worries about
slowing construction and infrastructure demand.
"While steel prices have come off their recent rally, and we
think are set for further declines, iron ore prices could see a
short-term stabilization before easing in the second half of the
year," Barclays Capital analysts in a recent research note.
Stockpiles of imported iron ore at China's major ports
remain close to 13-year highs. SH-TOT-IRONINV
Steel consumption typically eases during the summer months
in the north of the country along with construction activity.
Imports of steel products rose 2.8 percent to 1.11 million
tonnes in May from April. Exports rose 7.6 percent to 6.98
Reining in excessive local government debt and the shadow
banking sector in China has been high on the central
government's agenda, leading to concerns that tighter liquidity
will affect completion of some large infrastructure projects.
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(Reporting by Josephine Mason in BEIJING and Manolo Serapio Jr
in MANILA; Editing by Tom Hogue)