(Reuters) - China’s imports of copper, iron ore, coal and soybeans rose in March from a month earlier, while oil imports were little changed, according to data released on Friday by China’s General Administration of Customs.
* Copper: China imported 391,000 tonnes, versus 311,000 tonnes in February
* Crude oil: China imported 39.34 million tonnes, versus 39.23 million tonnes in February
* Iron ore: China imported 86.42 million tonnes, versus 83.08 million tonnes in February
* Soybeans: China imported 4.92 million tonnes, versus 4.46 million tonnes in February
* Coal: China imported 23.48 million tonnes of coal, versus 17.64 million tonnes in February
Preliminary table of commodity trade data
Commentary on crude
SENG-YICK TEE, ANALYST, SIA ENERGY:
On Q1 imports, which rose 8.2 pct y/y to 121 mln tonnes.
“State-run refiners were the main contributor to the increases in the first quarter after drawing down stocks significantly late last year.
“Also independents/teapots took advantage of the cheaper crude prices and rushed to utilise the first batch of non-state trading imports quotas”
Commentary on iron ore
“China’s domestic demand started to see a big increase since mid-March as steel mills gradually resumed production amid easing winter curbs.
“The impact of operational and shipment distruptions from Vale’s disaster has not been reflected as they were sending iron ore from stocks at ports ... But we may see an obvious decline of iron ore arrivials in April, as we also saw ports damaged in Western Australian in late March due to the cyclones.”
Commentary on soybeans
“Some cargoes delayed in Feburary arrived in March. There were some new crop from Brazil as well. Imports are usually low in March. They would probably pick up in April as U.S. cargoes booked earlier by state firms were expected to arrive in a concentrated manner and beans from Brazil will come as well. The figures were still low compared from last year as overall purchases remain curbed due to the tariffs.”
Commentary on coal
“Higher March imports were driven by more supplies from Mongolia, with shipment increasing 50 percent in March from February. The curbs on Australian supplies have led to a fell in coking coal imports. But tight supplies will continue to support prices.”
For details, see the official Customs website(www.customs.gov.cn)
China is the world’s biggest net crude oil consumer and topbuyer of copper, coal, iron ore and soy.
Reporting by Asia Commodities and Energy team; Editing by Richard Pullin