Volatile China commodities imports rebound in July

Thu Aug 8, 2013 4:03am EDT
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By David Stanway

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's imports of crude and iron ore rebounded from multi-month lows to hit record highs in July, as more raw materials were shipped in to rebuild depleted stocks, amid tentative signs of stabilizing activity in the world's second-largest economy.

Economic growth in China has slowed for nine straight quarters, increasing scrutiny over whether the country's appetite for raw materials falters in the second half.

Trade data has been volatile this year and some of the rise in commodities imports was also due to delayed shipments arriving in July and the opening of new oil refineries.

China's overall trade data showed imports jumped 10.9 percent, five times what analysts had forecast, while exports rose 5.1 percent in July.

"These trade numbers are going to give some people a shock especially those predicting the end of the world for China," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Global Markets in Sydney.

But some questioned the strength of underlying demand, noting the rebound came after a weak set of data in June and amid a need to replace stocks used in the first half.

Higher processing rates required both oil refineries and steel mills to restock in July, raising shipments of crude to a record 6.15 million barrels per day (bpd), up 14.1 percent on June, and iron ore to 73.14 million tons, up 17 percent.

Soybean deliveries also hit a second straight monthly high at 7.2 million tons, though this was expected as delayed Brazilian shipments arrived and importers replenished stocks.   Continued...

Steam billows from a chimney of a heating plant near the World Trade Centre Tower III, a 330-meter-tall (1,083 feet) skyscraper, in central Beijing February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic