April 13, 2017 / 4:22 AM / 4 months ago

Expert views: China's commodity imports surge in March; crude imports at record

4 Min Read

Trucks carrying copper and other goods are seen waiting to enter an area of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai in this September 24, 2014 file photo.Carlos Barria/File Photo

REUTERS - China's imports of oil, copper, iron ore, coal and soybeans in March surge on a month earlier, customs data showed on Thursday.

Key Points:

Copper: China imported 430,000 tonnes, versus 340,000 tonnes in February

Crude oil: China imported 38.95 million tonnes, versus 31.78 million tonnes in February

Iron ore: China imported 95.56 million tonnes, versus 83.49 million tonnes in February

Soybeans: China imported 6.33 million tonnes, versus 5.54 million tonnes in February

Coal: China imported 22.09 million tonnes, versus 17.68 million tonnes in February

Preliminary table of commodity trade data

Commentary on copper:

Helen Lau, Argonaut Securities, Hong Kong

“We have been seeing exchange inventories going down, so we are not surprised about the March import recovery. For fabricators, perhaps they are looking at the short supply of copper concentrate, and choosing to import more metal now. For sure, this trend will extend into April but for May we will need to wait and see.”

Commentary on crude oil:

Harry Liu, Analyst, Ihs Markit

"The 9.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude imports is definitely a shocking number. That means China built close to 1.7 million bpd of crude inventory in March, way off the chart from any perspectives! Particularly at a time when storage capacity addition is light. This level of imports are considered unsustainable in the coming months. We're expecting a significant slowdown to close to 8 million bpd as refinery maintenance picks up, as well as the tightening room for stock building."

Commentary on Soybeans:

Monica Tu, Analyst, Jc Intelligence Co

"The figures are basically in line with the market expectation. Buyers bought a lot of soybeans from Brazil maybe out of concern about Sino-U.S. trade relations. And logistics were quite smooth and shipping was fast. On the domestic demand side, soybean crushers signed many presale contracts around spring festival time in January and February, when there was mismatch of supply and demand. We expect soy imports for the coming months to be even higher, reaching over 8 million tonnes in April, May and June. Pressure on supplies will start kicking in around April."

Commentary on coal:

Zhang Xiaojin, Coal Analyst, Everbright Futures

"The year on year increase in monthly coal imports is quite high and a bit unexpectedly. Robust imports reflected both strong demand from the power plants in the first three months and deep discount of imported coal to domestic coal. Demand for imported coal remain strong in April, but due to disruption to transportation in Australian, shipment could be lower compared with March."

Commentary on iron ore:

Nev Power, Chief Executive, Fortescue Metals Group

"We have seen the follow through on new supply coming on to the market in seaborne iron ore and there is still more supply to come, which will replace higher cost (Chinese) production. Imported iron ore to China will continue at the levels we are seeing now or perhaps even grow as we go forward."

Links:

For details, see the official Customs website(www.customs.gov.cn)

Background:

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 Christian Schmollinger

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