Shanghai rebar steel prices pick up after big drop the day before, smog alerts support

22 November 2018

Prices of Chinese steel rebar clawed back some ground on Thursday after their worst performance in eight months the day before, supported by disruptions to output amid smog alerts in the nation’s top steelmaking region.

The northern province of Hebei has issued second-level smog alerts to its 10 cities that take effect from Thursday, forcing heavy industry to implement emergency measures including cutting output and crimping the transportation of materials.

Benchmark Shanghai rebar futures had edged up 0.9 percent to 3,715 yuan ($535.70) a tonne by 0153 GMT on Thursday, after dropping as much as 5.6 percent in the previous session in their biggest daily percentage decline since March 23. They touched their lowest in four months on Wednesday.

However, analysts warned that prices faced headwinds in the short-term.

“Steel mills need to reduce output to ease the pressure of a glut in the market, but this will not be achieved in the short-term,” analysts from CITIC Futures said in a note in Mandarin.

“Steel prices are expected to stay at low levels, but will be supported by restocking demand from Chinese traders if prices plunge further.”

Average daily crude steel output at member mills of the Chinese Iron and Steel Association (CISA) reached 1.92 million tonnes between Nov. 1 and 10, up 0.6 percent from Oct. 20-31, data from the group showed.

Steel inventory at mills also climbed over the same period, up 0.1 percent to 12.23 million tonnes, according to the CISA data.

Meanwhile, spot steel trading volumes picked up on Wednesday from three-month lows, with traders resuming some purchases at low prices. According to data tracked by Mysteel consultancy, a total of 154,700 tonnes of construction steel products were traded on Wednesday, up 17.6 percent from Tuesday.

The slight pickup in steel prices supported markets for steelmaking raw materials.

The most-traded coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange increased 0.6 percent to 1,360 yuan a tonne, while coke prices rose 1.4 percent to 3,614 yuan a tonne.

Dalian iron ore for January delivery climbed 2.4 percent to 523.5 yuan a tonne.