Focus on China — The Asian giant imports 13% less crude oil from Saudi Arabia; Yuan weakens to 6-month low
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia exported nearly 13% less oil to China in March compared to a year earlier, but retained its top supplier spot, while shipments from second-ranked Russia fell 14%, according to Reuters calculations based on data from China Customs.
Arrivals of Saudi crude totaled 6.858 million tonnes last month, or 1.61 million barrels per day, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
That compared to an average of 1.81 million bpd in the first two months and 1.85 million bpd a year earlier.
Imports from Russia were 6.39 million tonnes, or 1.5 million bpd, compared to 1.75 million bpd in March 2021 and 1.57 million bpd in the January-February period.
The drop in supplies from these two exporters came as China’s overall crude oil imports last month fell 14% year-on-year as independent refiners limited purchases amid tight margins and maintenance. large state-owned factories.
As most Russian shipments arriving in March were contracted before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, any reduction in Russian oil purchases due to sanctions fears would only be reflected in data expected to be released in may.
Chinese yuan weakens to 6-month low
The Chinese yuan fell to a six-month low against the dollar on Wednesday, dragged down by a weaker-than-expected official midpoint setting and lingering worries about the outlook for economic growth.
But the falls were limited by the fact that China surprisingly held its benchmark lending rates stable for the third month following its April fixing. The markets saw in this decision a sign of caution on the part of Beijing in the deployment of easing measures.
Ahead of the market open, the People’s Bank of China pegged the midpoint rate at 6.3996 per dollar, 276 pips or 0.43% lower than the previous fix of 6.3720.
But Wednesday’s official guidance rate, the lowest since Nov. 12, 2021, is 143 pips lower than a Reuters estimate of 6.3853.
Markets usually note the PBOC’s daily fixing of the yuan to gauge the official attitude towards exchange rate policy. Many forex traders interpreted Wednesday’s weaker-than-expected midpoint as indicating that it would allow for some weakness in the yuan.
The spot yuan opened at 6.4055 to the dollar and fell to a low of 6.4115 at one point, the lowest level since Oct. 29, 2021.
Taiwanese businesses restart unevenly after Covid restrictions
Taiwanese companies making chips and electronic components reported a mixed picture on Wednesday on the resumption of work in the eastern Chinese city of Kunshan after COVID-19 restrictions, some shipments of warning being postponed until next month.
China has placed Shanghai under a strict lockdown since late March and neighboring Kunshan has also tightened restrictions to control the country’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan.
That had prompted dozens of Taiwanese companies, many of which made parts for the semiconductor and electronics industries, to suspend operations.
Global companies from mobile phone makers to chips rely heavily on China and Southeast Asia for production and have diversified their supply chains after the pandemic took its toll.
Unmicron, which supplies Apple Inc. and Intel Corp., said in a statement to the Taipei Stock Exchange that the factory suspended production from April 2 to April 19.
He added that he was “gradually resuming work depending on local personnel and logistical conditions”.
However, Asia Electronic Material Co. Ltd., which makes parts for laptops, mobile phones and digital cameras, said its Kunshan plant would continue to be closed, after initially announcing the suspension would last until Tuesday. .
(With contributions from Reuters)