Iron Ore Steady, Firm China Steel Pricing Keeps Buying Interest Intact

31 March 2016

Iron ore futures in Asia steadied on Wednesday as firm Chinese steel prices supported buying interest among mills looking to restart production.

Chinese steel producers have been either boosting output or resuming operations amid recent gains in prices as they look to brisk seasonal demand in the second quarter when construction activity typically increases.

A small steel producer in China’s northern Shanxi province is planning to resume production after a three-month stoppage, said a Shanghai-based trader. “They are in the market to procure raw material,” he said.

“Buying interest for iron ore is still healthy because of the strong steel market,” he added.

The most-traded September iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.4 percent at 379.50 yuan ($58.53) a tonne by 0326 GMT, recovering from Tuesday’s three-month low of 371.50 yuan.

On the Singapore Exchange, May iron ore was off 0.6 percent at $49.97 a tonne.

Spot steel prices in Shanghai continued to gain even as futures retreated from recent highs, suggesting good prospects for near-term demand, traders said.

Rebar, a construction steel product, is currently sold at around 2,300 yuan a tonne in Shanghai, although the October rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was trading at 2,109 yuan on Wednesday, down 1.8 percent.

The exchange-traded rebar touched a nine-month high of 2,240 yuan on March 23.

While some steel mills are looking to restart production, others have suffered from tough conditions in the past year as domestic demand shrank in step with a slower economy.

Dongbei Special Steel Group Co Ltd, an unlisted steel manufacturer based in northeast China, has missed a payment on an 800 million yuan ($123 million) short-term note several days after the group’s chairman was found dead in an apparent suicide.

Earlier, financial magazine Caixin reported that Tianjin-based Bohai Steel Group Co Ltd may be unable to make full repayment on 192 billion yuan of debt.

Iron ore for immediate delivery to China’s Tianjin port .IO62-CNI=SI slipped 0.9 percent to $54.70 a tonne on Tuesday, according to The Steel Index. But the spot benchmark was still up nearly 28 percent for the year.


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