Chinese iron ore futures climbed to their strongest level in more than two years on Friday, reflecting firm demand for the steelmaking raw material as steel prices stretched gains along with coal to multi-year highs.
Helped by rising futures and increased appetite for high-grade ore, spot iron ore prices also extended their rally to over six-month peaks and were on course for their fourth week of gains.
Chinese steel mills now prefer high-grade iron ore, mainly from Australia and Brazil, to boost productivity and consume less coal as a shortage in China keeps prices of the fuel high, traders said.
“Offers of high-grade to the market are not as much as the past few weeks. Some people are reluctant to quote their cargo because they feel the market will get stronger so they prefer to wait,” said a Shanghai-based iron ore trader.
The most-traded iron ore for January delivery on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose as far as 509.50 yuan ($75) a tonne, the highest since July 2014. It closed up 1.1 percent at 500 yuan.
On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, construction steel product rebar finished 2.7 percent higher at 2,716 yuan a tonne, after earlier hitting 2,767 yuan, the highest since September 2014.
China’s efforts to cut excess steel capacity have helped spur prices higher. Baosteel Group said it would cut steel production capacity by 11 million tonnes from 2016 to 2017, ahead of an earlier target.
Trading in the physical iron ore market was largely brisk this week, pushing the 62-percent spot benchmark to $64.50 a tonne on Thursday, up 0.2 percent from Wednesday and the strongest since April 29, according to The Steel Index (TSI).
For the week, the spot price has so far risen 2.2 percent.
“High coke and coking coal prices stimulated demand (for) high grade iron ore fines,” said TSI, which tracks physical deals.
Iron ore with iron content of 60 percent and above is considered high-grade and the gap between the 62-percent benchmark and 58-percent grade stood at $8.60 a tonne on Thursday, near a one-month high.
Dalian coking coal for January delivery surged by its 7-percent limit to close at a contract high of 1,405.50 yuan a tonne. Dalian coke ended 6.6 percent higher at 1,910.50 yuan, after earlier hitting 1,918.50 yuan, its strongest since March 2013.
Source: ReutersPrevious Next