(Reuters) by Chris Prentice and Niu Shuping – Recent news from China makes depressing reading for commodities producers, with a slowing economy, tumbling stock prices and a currency devaluation all signaling weaker demand. There is one exception: the world’s second biggest economy has begun importing ethanol in volumes big enough to stir hopes that it might herald an opening of a major, until now barely accessible, market. “If it becomes constant, that’s big news. China‘s a place where everyone looks and says, ‘what if,’” said Jordan Fife, a merchant with BioUrja Trading LLC in Houston. State-run grain trader China National Oils and Foodstuffs Corp, known as COFCO, has begun shipping ethanol from its recently acquired mills in Brazil in recent months, the first shipments from the world’s second-biggest exporter since 2012, according to trade sources and Brazilian trade data. Other Chinese buyers have also booked cargoes from the United States – the largest such purchases on record – as well as South Korea, for delivery through August, traders said. In all, China’s imported over 56,000 tonnes of the biofuel in the first half of this year, worth about $27 million based on U.S. prices, twice the volume for all of 2014. <ETH/CN> … continue reading
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