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Record Oil Imports Take China Closest Ever to Passing U.S.

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China’s record crude imports last month brought it the closest ever to surpassing the U.S. as the Asian country boosts emergency stockpiles and America’s shale boom reduces the need for oil from overseas.

China bought 7.19 million barrels a day of foreign oil in December, data released by the General Administration of Customs in Beijing showed yesterday. The U.S. imported about 7.53 million a day on average over that period, according to the Energy Information Administration. The difference was the smallest on record for monthly purchases by the world’s two largest oil consumers, the data show.