* April crude imports hit 9.6 mln bpd -customs
* That beats previous record set in January
* Fuel exports soar on-year, but down from March
BEIJING, May 8 (Reuters) - China’s crude oil imports reached record highs in April on a daily basis, according to customs data, with independent refiners shipping in backlogs of cargoes from the previous month and making new purchases amid steady refining margins.
April shipments were 39.46 million tonnes, or 9.6 million barrels per day (bpd), the General Administration of Customs said, beating the previous daily record of 9.57 million bpd set in January. That compared with 39.17 million tonnes in April last year.
Imports for the first four months of 2018 rose 8.9 percent versus the same period a year ago to 151.43 million tonnes, or 9.21 million bpd.
“Both state-run and independent plants were ramping up refinery production supported by steady margins,” said Gao Lei, analyst with China Sublime Information Group based in the eastern province of Shandong.
Independent plants in Shandong have also received some backlog cargoes from the previous month, said Gao.
Tuesday’s data also showed China’s refined fuel exports were 46-percent higher than a year earlier at 5.12 million tonnes, but eased from a record-high in March at 6.69 million tonnes.
The Chinese government issued a new batch of fuel export quotas totalling 19.33 million tonnes for 2018 under the general trade category, with market participants expecting Beijing to keep the total amount of grants this year largely flat from last year at around 43 million tonnes.
China’s fuel imports grew 21 percent on-year to 3.01 million tonnes. (Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Meng Meng; Editing by Tom Hogue and Joseph Radford)