(Bloomberg) — From oil to copper to coal, China’s gigantic commodities industry is signaling that the first economy to be flattened by the coronavirus is getting closer to a return to normality.
Bloomberg Economics estimates that most of China was 90%-95% back to work at the end of last week, noting pick-ups in the steel market, construction activity and crude processing.
Those oil refineries, as well as coal-fired power plants, are nearing last year’s operating rates, while metals stockpiles have shrunk from record or near-record levels. It’s a three-month cycle of collapse and recovery marked by perhaps the most heartening milestone for those nations still fending off the worst of the virus: China has now reported zero new Covid-19 deaths for the first time since January.
Here’s a rundown of some key indicators of China’s commodity demand:
Throughput at state-owned oil majors and independent refiners is likely to rise to 13 million barrels a day this month from 12 million in March, according to senior officials at the nation’s top processors. That’s nearing the 13.4 million barrels a day averaged over last year.
State-owned giants such as Sinopec are preparing to restore more capacity as the central government pushes for a recovery in industrial activity to shore up economic growth, while some idled private oil refiners, known as teapots, will resume processing in April.
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