China iron ore extends losses as supply rises; steel rebounds

8 May 2017

Iron ore futures in China slipped on Monday, extending last week's losses as supply at the country's ports rose, nearly matching the 13-year high reached in March, underlining the slow demand for the steelmaking raw material.

But a rebound in Chinese steel prices capped losses in iron ore, with other raw material coking coal steadying.

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was off 0.4 percent at 465.50 yuan ($67) a tonne by 0236 GMT. It declined 8.2 percent last week, its biggest such decline since late December.

The inventory of imported iron ore at 46 Chinese ports rose to 131.95 million tons on Friday, up 1.4 million tonnes from a week ago, according to SteelHome. The stockpiles hit 132.45 million tonnes in March, the most since SteelHome began tracking it in 2004.

Rising supply and the weakness in steel prices, spurred by worries over softer consumption, have dragged down iron ore, said Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar.

"Chinese steel mills also refrained from buying iron ore on speculation that production cuts will be introduced later this week ahead of the One Belt One Road conference," said Dhar.

Leaders from 28 countries will gather in Beijing on May 14 to 15 for talks on what China formally calls the "One Road, One Belt" plan that envisions expanding trade and energy links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.

China typically orders industrial plants to cut or limit production to help clear the skies ahead of a major event such as when it hosted the G20 Summit in Hangzhou last year. Iron ore prices may find support from a pickup in steel demand in China later in the year, said Dhar.

"Chinese steel demand is likely to remain supported as policy makers look to ensure stable economic growth ahead of elections later in the year. In particular, policy makers have targeted infrastructure investment," he said.

The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 1.7 percent at 2,982 yuan per tonne, after dropping 4.4 percent last week. Coking coal on Dalian exchange was nearly flat at 1,032 yuan a tonne.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port fell 5.3 percent to $61.73 a tonne on Friday, the lowest since October 2016, according to Metal Bulletin. The spot benchmark lost 10.3 percent last week, the most since May last year.