(Bloomberg) -- China’s imports of commodities in July offered some tentative signs of a demand recovery after the sharp slump earlier this year due to stringent Covid-19 restrictions and property woes.

Inbound shipments of crude rose from the lowest in four years to 37.33 million tons as travel and transportation activity improved, according to government data released Sunday. Year-to-date volumes are still 4% lower, however. Iron ore imports also crept higher despite headwinds in the steel industry. 

China is seeking to rebound from a stormy second quarter that saw consumer and manufacturing activity hammered by strict Covid curbs and a widening crisis in the property market. Factory activity unexpectedly shrank in July, but the government has pledged measures to shore up growth this year.

Crude inventories shrank in July after an “unusual build-up” ahead of summer because of the virus curbs, according to data analytics firm Kayrros. China is the world’s biggest importer of crude.

Inbound shipments of natural gas declined amid rocketing international prices, while purchases of copper also softened in the low season for demand. Coal imports rose and soybean volumes dropped.

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