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Chinese coal imports jumped 50% year on year in August to a year-to-date high of 1.43m tonnes/day amid strong power demand, while gas deliveries also rose by nearly a quarter, customs data showed on Thursday.

China’s gas imports via pipeline and LNG last month grew 23% year on year to 10.9m tonnes (14.8bcm).

“LNG and coal imports benefitted from still subdued hydropower generation amid strong electricity demand,” analysts at ANZ bank said, referring to China’s need to ramp up power output to meet cooling demand during the summer.

Analysts have questioned demand growth prospects in China as its post-pandemic economy struggles with a property market crisis among other things, with officials recently introducing stimulus measures.

“With inventories relatively low, the prospects of further stimulus measures triggered restocking across commodities, which should keep demand strong in the short term,” ANZ added.

Nuanced outlook
Data analyst firm DBX said that while the long-term outlook for coal in China remained “decidedly bullish”, the short-term outlook was more “nuanced”.

“The Chinese economy currently grapples with formidable challenges, including demographic shifts, heavily leveraged corporations and a beleaguered property sector,” DBX said.

“These factors collectively translate into tepid industrial power demand,” it added in a note.

Coal imports in the first eight months of the year were 82% higher than in the same period last year at 306m tonnes, while gas imports were 9% higher at 77.7m tonnes, the data showed.