LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – China’s imports of major commodities in August illustrate both why prices have gained in recent months and why this rally may be running out of steam. Imports of crude oil, copper, coal and iron ore remained relatively robust in August, but the customs data released on Sept. 8 also showed a certain loss of momentum.
Crude oil imports were 33.98 million tonnes, equivalent to about 8 million barrels per day (bpd), which was the lowest in about eight months and down from 8.18 million bpd in July.
While an explanation can be found in maintenance closures by refineries and ramped up environmental inspections by the authorities, it does appear that China’s crude oil imports have been losing some momentum. The year-on-year increase for the first eight months of 2017 was 12.2 percent, which is still robust.
But it is also down from 13.6 percent in July and 13.8 percent in June, showing that while overall growth in imports is still well up in year-on-year terms, it is starting to slow somewhat. It’s a similar story for coal, which has been an area of standout strength for imports this year.
China brought in 25.27 million tonnes of coal in August, which was almost 30 percent higher than July’s 19.46 million, but down 5 percent from August last year.