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Natural gas and coal imports surged last month

China’s commodities buying spree eased slightly in December, with copper, iron ore and crude oil imports all falling from bumper levels a month earlier, the latest sign that Beijing’s anti-smog crackdown is slowing industrial activity.

The drop contributed to an overall deceleration in China’s imports and exports, which highlighted ebbing momentum in the world’s second-largest economy.

Natural gas and coal imports meanwhile surged last month, the General Administration of Customs said on Friday, amid fuel shortages that left millions of homes freezing across the north of China and factories in the south roiled by forced cutbacks.

Gas imports hit a new annual record, smashing the previous high by 20 percent, on the back of a massive gasification drive that gained momentum late in the year as temperatures in northern China dropped.

With the plan to heat millions of homes with the fuel proving overambitious, and leading to shortages, there was also a 3.2 percent month-on-month boost in coal imports in December after the government eased restrictions on imports to keep the country warm.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.