UPDATE 1-China's October soybean imports hit lowest since Mar 2020

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BEIJING, Nov 7 (Reuters) - China’s soybean imports in October fell 41.2% from a year earlier, hitting the lowest level since March 2020, customs data showed on Sunday, as poor crush margins curbed demand and Hurricane Ida limited U.S. shipments.

The world’s top buyer of soybeans brought in 5.11 million tonnes of the oilseed in October, versus 8.69 million tonnes a year earlier, General Administration of Customs data showed on Sunday.

China’s soybean purchases in October were also down from the 6.88 million tonnes imported in September, the data showed.

China brought in 79.08 million tonnes of soybeans in the first 10 months of the year, down 5% from a year earlier.

Chinese crushers had stepped up purchases earlier in the year in anticipation of strong demand from a fast recovering pig herd.

Demand has, however, dropped after pig supplies outpaced demand, leading to a plunge in prices and wiping out farmer profits. JCI-HOGM-HENAN

Hog farmers faced heavy losses throughout the summer months, though prices have picked up in October.

As recently as early September, soybean crush margins were negative after hitting a record low in June. However, the margins improved during September on declining stockpiles. CNSOY-DLN-MRG

Hurricane Ida, which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in early September, damaged at least three of the nearly dozen export terminals dotted along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.

Reporting by Dominique Patton and Muyu Xu; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christian Schmollinger