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China's LNG, Iron Ore Imports Jump In May

Turning to imports and it was good news for Australia.

China imported higher volumes of iron ore, copper and LNG for example, but not coal.

Shipments of iron ore rose 13.5% in May from April to 94.14 million tonnes, up 3% from 91.52 million tonnes in the May last year, but more than 13% above the 84 million tonnes

For the first five months, China bought a total of 448 million tonnes of iron ore.

China’s coal imports in May were almost unchanged from May 2017 and April this year as tough government curbs on shipments, designed to cool an overheating market, kept a lid on foreign coal buying.

Coal arrivals in May were 22.33 million tonnes just up from 22.28 million tonnes in April and less than 1% up from May 2017.

For the first five months of 2018, coal imports were up 8.2% at 120.73 million tonnes, customs data showed.

Reuters reported that spot prices for Australian coal delivery from Newcastle terminal rose more than 12% in May, and hit a six-year high of $US115.25 a tonne on Friday.

A surprise was that after months of falling or no growth, China boosted imports of copper, importing 475,000 tonnes of unwrought copper and copper products last month, the largest monthly total since December 2016.

It was also the highest May figure for at least a decade, up 22% from the same month last year and up 8% from 440,000 tonnes in April.

China’s May crude oil imports eased from the record highs in April. May shipments were 39.05 million tonnes, or 9.2 million barrels per day (barrels per day -bpd). That compared to 9.6 million bpd in April and 8.76 million bpd in May, 2017.

Imports for the first five months of 2018 were 190 million tonnes, an increase of nearly 8% from 2917.

Data also showed China's refined fuel exports reached 6.13 million tonnes, up from 5.12 million tonnes in May and off a record 6.69 million tonnes in March.

China’s natural gas imports - including pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) - jumped 36.5% to 7.4 million tonnes in May.

Year-to-date imports hit 34.8 million tonnes, up 36% than the in the first five months of 2017.

China’s January-May soybean imports totalled 36.17 million tonnes and May soybean imports highest since July 2017.

China’s exports of steel and aluminium were higher in May.

Data from the country's Customs Administration showed China’s aluminium exports rose to their highest in almost three and a half years in May, while steel exports were the most since July 2017,

China is the world’s biggest producer of steel and aluminium, which have both been subject to 25% and 10% import tariffs, respectively, in the United States, since March 23.

Unwrought aluminium and aluminium product exports rose to 485,000 tonnes last month - the second-highest figure in Chinese customs’ records (according to Reuters), behind only the 542,700 tonnes exported in December 2014.

Shipments were up 7.5% from April and nearly 13% from May 2017.

Steel product exports amounted to 6.88 million tonnes in May, customs said, up 6.2% from 6.48 million tonnes in April but down 1.4% on a year ago.

View More Articles By Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.



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