Business / Economy

Increased imports for copper, crude oil and iron ore

By Du Juan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-14 01:45

Driven by economic growth and a need to restock, China's imports for crude oil and key commodities surged to a record high in the first month of the year.

Imports of crude oil, iron ore and copper are often evaluated as a sign of China's economic strength, but a weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, which began on Jan 31, can affect the market to certain extent when manufacturers increase their inventories for production during the holiday.

China imported 28.16 million metric tons of crude oil in January, up 11.9 percent year-on-year. The daily crude imports reached a new record of 6.63 million barrels, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Wednesday.

Li Li, research director at ICIS C1 Energy, a Shanghai-based energy information consultancy, said international crude oil prices hit bottom in November 2013, which gave traders and refineries the opportunity to restock at a good price before the Lunar New Year.

Analysts said the major drive for China's crude imports this year and the next is to build up medium- and long-term commercial and strategic reserves, creating a saturated supply in the domestic oil products market.

"The demand for crude oil from the new refining capacity is relatively low," she said.

Iron ore imports also soared to a record high of 86.83 million tons in January, up 18 percent compared with December, marking a 33 percent increase year-on-year.

"It's a reasonable growth rate," said Zhang Tieshan, a senior analyst from industrial information provider

Many domestic steel mills were restocking ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when trading is usually suspended, he said.

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