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China February Ore Imports Drop 13% on New Year Holiday, Prices

March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Iron ore imports by China, the world’s biggest buyer, dropped 13 percent in February as Chinese New Year holidays and high prices slowed buying.

Imports totaled 56.42 million metric tons in February, China’s General Administration of Customs said today on its website. Shipments declined from 64.98 million tons a year ago and were 14 percent lower than the 65.54 million tons recorded in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Activity slowed as businesses closed for the holidays, which ended Feb. 15. Imported ore prices, which reached their highest in 16 months at $158.9 a dry ton on Feb. 20, have deterred Chinese steelmakers from purchases, Mysteel.com analyst Chen Zhenxing said.

Ore with 62 percent content delivered to Tianjin added 0.3 percent to $146.3 a dry ton yesterday, according to data from the Steel Index Ltd. Prices have surged 69 percent from an almost three-year low reached in September.

China’s iron ore imports fell 1.5 percent to 122 million tons in the first two months of this year from a year ago, the General Administration of Customs said.

Steel-product exports were 4.24 million tons in February, customs said. Shipments surged 29 percent to 9.16 million tons for the first two months.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Helen Yuan in Shanghai at hyuan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net

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