China July coal imports at 8-mth high as domestic supply dips

By: | Published: August 8, 2015 9:36 AM

China, the world's largest coal buyer, imported 21.26 million tonnes of coal in July, up 28.1 percent on the month as buyers took advantage of weak global prices, customs data showed on Saturday.

china coalChina, the world’s largest coal buyer, imported 21.26 million tonnes of coal in July, up 28.1 percent on the month as buyers took advantage of weak global prices, customs data showed on Saturday. (Reuters)

China, the world’s largest coal buyer, imported 21.26 million tonnes of coal in July, up 28.1 percent on the month as buyers took advantage of weak global prices, customs data showed on Saturday.

Coal deliveries reached their highest level since last December, partly as a result of a spike in seasonal demand, but analysts warned that prospects for the market remained dim.

The surge in imports was partly a result of deliberate output cuts by domestic miners desperate to minimise losses after a 20 percent drop in prices this year.

Coal imports over the first seven months as a whole reached 121 million tonnes, still down nearly 34 percent compared with the same period of last year, with shipments also hit by a tough new quality inspection regime at China’s ports.

“I cannot see any signs that the market will improve in August,” said Wang Fei with China’s Huaan Futures, adding that prices were unlikely to see an improvement until September.

In July, while overall imports dipped 8.1 percent on the year, shipments of most major commodities were higher than expected as end-users restocked ahead of anticipated increases in demand.

Soybean deliveries rose 17.4 percent to reach a new record of 9.5 million tonnes over the month, with domestic crushers buying abundant quantities of cheap South American crop.

China imported 30.71 million tonnes of crude oil or 7.23 million barrels a day in July, up 4.1 percent from the previous month, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs.

Iron ore also beat forecasts, rising 14.9 percent from the previous month to reach 86.1 million tonnes, its highest level since December, with steel mills building up inventories ahead of an anticipated increase in production over the next few months.

“Steel mills are resuming production a little in August and they have also stepped up restocking of the raw material,” said Xia Junyan, an analyst with Everbright Securities in Shanghai.

With domestic steel demand weak, mills continued to boost overseas sales, with product exports rising 9.4 percent compared to June to 9.73 million tonnes over the month.

Copper imports were flat from a month ago at 350,000 tonnes in July, with demand for spot copper still in a seasonal lull.

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