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China stockpiling imports masks tepid oil demand

China’s oil imports continue to surge, but is it sustainable, and what are the long-term impacts?

China, the biggest source of world oil-demand growth, defied all expectations in May by importing a record 6 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude. However, the new high, up 18.2% compared with year-ago levels or 11% higher over April, reflects the nation’s increased stockpiling rather than signalling a rising domestic appetite and stronger economic outlook. The Asian powerhouse is hoarding crude at its fastest rate since the Beijing Olympics four years ago. But the real surprise is that it has bolstered its emergency stocks at a time when oil prices have been trading near their highest levels in around four years.Implied oil demand was up a slender 0.4% to 9.3m b/d in May from April, base

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