Dalian iron ore retreats from 14-week high as steel slips


Iron ore futures in China pulled back from 14-week highs on Wednesday as steel prices stabilised after recent sharp gains spurred by tighter supply.

The strength in China’s steel market, the world’s biggest, fueled the recent rally in iron ore futures and in the spot price to above $60 a tonne for the first time since May despite sustained increases in iron ore stocks at China’s ports.

Higher iron ore inventories at ports, suggesting slow demand, usually pressure prices of the raw material.

“The deviation in this relationship over the last month is concerning too in that trade and production data suggest heightening surplus risks in iron ore markets,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

The most-traded September iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was off 0.3 percent at 482 yuan ($73) a tonne by midday. The contract hit 489 yuan on Tuesday, the highest since April 25.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, construction steel product rebar slipped 0.2 percent to 2,496 yuan a tonne, after touching a two-week peak of 2,529 yuan in the previous session.

Stockpiles of imported iron ore at China’s ports reached 106.05 million tonnes on Friday, the most since December 2014, according to data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.

The inventory has risen 14 percent this year.

Tighter steel supply, courtesy of disrupted steel transport routes following floods in northern China as well as continuing environmental inspections of domestic mills, has propped up steel prices, lifting iron ore with it.

“As these temporary factors subside, we expect Chinese steel and iron ore prices to weaken in coming months,” Dhar said, adding that the slowdown in China’s property construction volumes should also weigh on steel prices.

As surplus risks mount, Dhar said iron ore is likely to return to around $45 within the second half of the year.

Iron ore for delivery to China’s Tianjin port gained 0.3 percent to $60.70 a tonne on Tuesday, its loftiest since May 4, according to The Steel Index.

Source: Reuters

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