BEIJING Dec 8 China's imports of commodities
surged unexpectedly last month putting the world's
second-largest economy on track to set records for shipments of
iron ore, coal and soybeans even as concerns linger about
slowing economic growth.
For some markets, like soybeans, the robust buying was in
line with seasonal expectations as livestock farmers scooped up
feed for their animals ahead of peak demand for pork and other
meat during the nation's week-long Spring festival.
In iron ore, the surge to one of the highest on record was
partly due to the arrival of shipments delayed by the week-long
Golden Week festival at the end of October.
Still, the buying was surprisingly strong even as steel
mills and copper fabricators prepared to slow output for weaker
demand from the construction sector during the winter months.
"The rise in copper imports reflected in part a rise in
Shanghai Futures Exchange inventories and stronger demand from
the Chinese power and construction sectors," said Vivek Dhar,
commodities analyst with Commonweealth Bank of Australia in
The buying helped spur a 6.7 percent rise in China's total
imports, easily eclipsing economists' expectations for a drop of
1.3 percent and its biggest gain since September 2014.
Independent oil refiners with newly granted quotas bought
more foreign crude even as oil prices rebounded ahead of
expected output cuts by major producing nations, while utilities
ramped up their coal purchases as government-enforced mine
closures continued to hurt domestic supplies.
With the major consumers locked into long-term contracts at
big discounts to the cash price and local miners increasing
output, the months-long buying may ebb in December, traders
In fact, the buying spree across commodities may not
continue into December as consumers destock ahead of the holiday
at the end of January and the weak yuan makes imports less
"The debate dividing the market is whether this growth can
be sustained into next year, or will things flatten out," said
Still China's major markets including soybeans, coal and
iron ore, were on pace for record-setting shipments for the full
Imports of the steelmaking raw material reached 935 million
tonnes in January-November, putting it on track to top 1 billion
tonnes this year and surpass the record 952.84 million tonnes in
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(Reporting by Beijing commodities team; Writing by Josephine
Mason; Editing by Richard Pullin)