March 8, 2019 / 4:50 AM / 8 months ago

China's February coal imports tumble on uncertainty over curbs, holiday disruption

FILE PHOTO: Piles of imported coal are seen at a coal terminal of a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China July 26, 2018. Picture taken July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s coal imports in February fell sharply from January after utilities curbed buying citing uncertainty over Beijing’s policies on shipments arriving from overseas, while the week-long lunar new year holiday also cut into business.

Coal arrivals were nearly halved in February to only 17.6 million tonnes, down from 33.50 million tonnes in January, a Reuters calculation based on data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

The hefty swing downwards come amid huge gyrations in import volumes in recent months that traders based across China say reflect unpredictable government policies on imports. January’s imports were themselves three times as much as December arrivals last year - a month that saw the lowest level in seven years.

“The February imports are lower than my expectation,” George Huang, a Guangzhou-based coal analyst with coal-specialized consultancy Falcon Info said.

“The new year holiday has slowed activities on top of lengthy checks on coal imports,” Huang said.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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