CHINESE imports of key commodities rebounded in March from the month before as hopes of a strengthening economy encouraged end-users to ramp up output and cautiously replenish stocks.
With broader trade data also signalling domestic demand is gathering the steam needed to drive a recovery in the world's second largest economy, analysts said China’s appetite for commodity imports should continue to see a modest recovery through the second quarter, when manufacturing and construction typically pick up.
Copper imports climbed 7.2 per cent in March from February, iron ore increased 14.4 perc ent, while crude oil eked out a 0.2 per cent rise, data from the General Customs Administration showed today.
“We should see a modest recovery as economic activity picks up. We've already begun to see downstream industries start up more perceptibly in late March compared to earlier months,” said Cheng Sijin, a commodities analyst at Barclays Research.
“But reality will struggle to match hyped up expectations of a strong recovery. We expect to see a slow grind up in demand.”
China is the world's top buyer of copper, soy, iron ore and its second-largest importer of crude oil after the United States. All eyes have been on the pace of its economic recovery, with investors hoping it can offset resurgent worries over Europe's debt crisis.
Cooling China inflation yesterday reinforced hopes for an extended period of easy monetary policy, but uncertainty about the latest bird flu outbreak in the country could offer some headwinds to demand.