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* Lower global prices attract Chinese buyers
* Total sugar imports for Jan, Feb hit 590,000 tonnes
* Large imports come ahead of dumping probe result in May (Adds detail)
By Dominique Patton
BEIJING, March 23 (Reuters) - Sugar imports by China, the world's top buyer of the sweetener, jumped 70.3 percent in February from the year before to 180,000 tonnes, customs data showed on Thursday.
That followed in the wake of large shipments in January, with low global prices driving up demand for overseas purchases.
Imports during January and February reached a combined 590,000 tonnes, the highest volume since at least 2009, customs data recorded by Reuters shows.
"The (import) margins in November and December were really good," said a China-based trader.
The purchases were made even as import restrictions forced many to store the sweetener in bonded warehouses until the release of import permits later this year, added the trader.
The shipments come ahead of the results of an investigation into alleged anti-dumping into top exporting countries.
China will extend until May 22 the months-long probe launched last year, the government said this month. (Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Sunil Nair and Joseph Radford)