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RIYADH: China stocks edged higher on Wednesday, snapping a three-session losing streak after data showed exports in June grew at their fastest pace in five months, even as recent rising COVID-19 cases clouded the outlook for an economic recovery.

The blue-chip CSI300 Index rose 0.2 percent to 4,321.46, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.1 percent to 3,284.29 points.

The Hang Seng Index fell 0.2 percent to 20,797.95, while the China Enterprises Index lost 0.6 percent to 7,145.83 points.

June crude oil imports falls as lockdowns hit demand

China’s daily crude oil imports in June sank to their lowest since July 2018 as refiners anticipated COVID-19 lockdown measures would curb demand, data showed on Wednesday.

The world’s top crude buyer imported 35.82 million tons last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed, equivalent to 8.72 million barrels per day.

That is 11 percent lower than a year ago and 19 percent below May’s 10.8 million bpd level.

Imports during the first half of 2022 fell 3 percent versus the same period last year to 252.5 million tons, or about 10.2 million bpd, as months of COVID-19 control measures and the government’s curbs on fuel exports capped crude buying.

June soybean imports drop 23 percent on weak demand

China’s June soybean imports fell 23 percent from a year earlier to 8.25 million tons, as high global prices and weak demand curbed appetite for the oilseed, customs data showed on Wednesday.

Last month’s imports were also lower than May’s 9.67 million tons, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Soybean prices have surged this year after bad weather hurt production and exports in Brazil, China’s top supplier, while demand from the world’s top buyer is significantly weaker than a year ago.

Soybean arrivals last June reached their third-highest on record.

“You cannot compare this year and last year. The situation has totally changed,” said a China-based soybean trader who declined to be identified.

June copper imports jump 15 percent

China’s June copper imports rose 15.5 percent from a month ago to 537,698 tons, customs data showed on Wednesday, after demand picked up following the lifting of COVID-19 lockdowns that had hurt manufacturing activity.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 50.2 in June from 49.6 in May, the first time it rose above the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth since February. 

China is the world’s leading consumer of copper, which is used in various sectors from electrical to construction and transport.

An open arbitrage window also buoyed copper imports between Shanghai and London copper prices in May and June.

Imports of copper concentrate, or partially processed copper ore, were 2.06 million tons in June, down 5.9 percent from 2.19 the previous month, according to the customs data.

The country exported 607,443.40 tons of unwrought aluminum and aluminum products, including primary, alloy and semi-finished aluminum products, in June, down from May’s 676,604.6 tons.

(With input from Reuters) 

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