(Updating with more detail, comment)
BEIJING, May 8 (Reuters) - China’s April iron ore imports fell to their lowest since October as mills in the top steelmaking nation slowed their record-setting buying spree for cheap raw material amid growing worries about slowing manufacturing.
The nation imported 82.23 million tonnes of iron ore in April, down 13.9 percent from the previous month and down 2 percent from a year ago, according to data from the General Administration of Customs on Monday.
While this is the slowest month for arrivals in six months, analysts noted the total was still at an historically elevated level as mills churned out more steel due to high metal prices.
“It’s possible that there were some delays in customs clearing in April because if you look at the market there was not so much change between March and April,” said Wang Di, analyst at Cru said.
Still, Chinese iron ore futures plunged to their lowest since January last week, dragging steel down as well, with investors liquidating long positions amid growing worries about slowing construction and infrastructure demand.
Reining in excessive local government debt and the shadow banking sector in China has been high on the central government’s agenda, leading to concerns that tighter liquidity will affect completion of some large infrastructure projects.
Stockpiles of imported iron ore at China’s major ports topped 130 million tonnes last week, up 950,000 tonnes from the previous week, and not far off record levels. SH-TOT-IRONINV
Imports of steel products fell 16.9 percent to 1.08 million tonnes while exports fell 14.2 percent to 6.49 million tonnes.
For more details, click on (Reporting by Josephine Mason in BEIJING; additional reporting by Manolo Serapio in MANILA; Editing by Richard Pullin)