BEIJING (Scrap Register): China's imports of Iron Ore may be losing some of their strong growth momentum, with gains in the first quarter of this year failing to keep pace with those from the same period in 2017.
However, the first two months of the year generally result in some distortions in the data, depending on the timing of the Lunar New Year. This year's holiday fell entirely within February, resulting in weaker import numbers.
China's iron ore imports of 270.5 million tonnes during the first quarter actually being 0.1 percent down from the same quarter last year.
In the January-March period last year, iron ore imports were up 12.2 percent from the same period in 2016.
It would appear that China's vast steel sector may be taking a breather after several months of strong gains, and the build-up of iron ore inventories at ports to record levels in recent weeks probably has helped lower the appetite for imports.
However, copper is an area of strength in China's first quarter, with imports of unwrought copper increasing 7.3 percent in the first quarter, a reversal of the decline of 20 percent experienced in the first three months of 2017.
However, it's likely that some of this gain is due to a change in regulations, making it more difficult to import copper scrap and thereby boosting demand for the refined metal.