China Commodity Appetite Weakens as Growth Seen at Risk (Bloomberg News – June 8, 2015)

China’s imports of oil, copper and iron ore slid last month amid a broader slowdown in trade that highlights the country’s weakening economy and threatens growth targets.

Inbound shipments of oil dropped to the lowest in 15 months, overseas copper purchases retreated from the highest in a year and iron ore cargoes slid for a second month, data from the country’s General Administration of Customs showed Monday.

Weakening imports of raw materials will add to speculation that domestic demand in the world’s biggest consumer of energy, metals and grains is faltering. The Bloomberg Commodity Index of 23 commodities is extending its biggest slide since the 2008 global financial crisis amid concern the nation will fail to contain a slowdown.

“The macro economy is still weak,” Li Li, an analyst with Shanghai-based commodities researcher ICIS-China, said by phone. “Demand from the downstream heavy industrial sector, including transportation and property, have shown no signs of recovery.”

The country’s total imports shrank by the most since February while exports fell for a third month. That coincides with a slump in investment growth that’s putting Premier Li Keqiang’s 2015 expansion target of about 7 percent at risk.

The government is seeking to shift the country away from investment-led growth to a consumption-driven economy, prompting a slowdown in construction. As much as half of the country’s copper use and about 35 percent of its steel demand is related to housing and real estate, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

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