China imported record volumes of iron ore in January, with shipments rising 48% year-on-year, state media reported. Customs statistics show that imports climbed to 68.97 million metric tons for the month, out-stripping the previous record of 64.55 million tons in September 2009. The rise was fueled largely by traders increasing stocks in anticipation of higher prices for the commodity. The average price of imported ore stood at US$151 per ton in January, but is expected to rise further. Significant increases in the price of steel in recent months, in conjunction with lower freight costs and a stronger renminbi, have significantly boosted iron ore demand in China.