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320771

China's Oct. soy imports from U.S. slump due to weak demand, hurricane

BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) - China's October soybean imports from the United States fell sharply from the previous year, customs data showed on Sunday, hit by poor demand and limited exports.

China brought in 775,331 tonnes of U.S. soybeans in October, down 77% from 3.4 million tonnes a year earlier, according to data released from the General Administration of Customs.

Soybean shipments from the United States usually pick up in the fourth quarter of the year when the U.S. harvest gets underway and American beans dominate the market.

Poor crush margins and price competitive Brazilian beans, however, have curbed Chinese crushers' appetite for American cargoes, traders said.

Crush margins for soybeans, used in animal feed, stayed in negative territory in China's main processing hubs for about four months until early September. <CNSOY-RZO-MRG> <CNSOY-DLN-MRG>

Margins have been depressed by falling pork prices, with pig farmers in Sichuan, a major producer, losing money until the end of October. <JCI-HOGM-SICH>

U.S. soybean exports also sank in September after Hurricane Ida flooded and damaged grain terminals and caused widespread power outages.

China brought in 3.3 million tonnes of Brazilian beans in October, down 22% from 4.233 million tonnes in the previous year, the customs data showed.

Total shipments for the month of October came in at 5.11 million tonnes, down 41% from a year earlier, the lowest level since March 2020.

Chinese crushers stepped up buying of beans earlier in the year, on expectations of a fast-recovering pig herd.

Increasing pig production has pushed down pork prices, pressuring crush margins and slowing shipments of soybeans.

Soybean arrivals in the fourth quarter were expected to stay at low levels, with the volume of U.S. beans below the previous year, traders said. (Reporting by Hallie Gu, Cheng Leng and Shivani Singh; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christopher Cushing)

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