Dalian iron ore extends gains to 33-month high, spot eyes break of $80


Iron ore futures in China climbed to their highest in nearly three years on Monday, supported by stronger prices of steel and coking coal, which could push the spot rate well above $80 a ton.

Spot iron ore has rallied 86 percent this year as surging coal prices prompted Chinese steel mills to use higher grade ore to boost efficiency and consume lesser coal.

Chinese iron ore and coking coal futures both soared by their 9-percent limit before trimming gains.

The most-traded January iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed up 4.1 percent at 627 yuan ($92) a ton after rising as far as 656.50 yuan, its highest since February 2014.

Dalian January coking coal finished up 6.9 percent at 1,644 yuan per ton after touching a record high of 1,676 yuan.

“Iron ore continued to lift as mills look to buy medium and high grade ores to counter the impact of high coking coal prices,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

“The preference for higher quality iron ores has led to a shortage of it, with some mills even looking to low grade ores as a cost‑effective solution.”

The sustained strength in futures could push spot iron ore prices higher, with the raw material now within striking distance of $80 a ton.

Iron ore for delivery to China’s Tianjin port soared 7.4 percent to $79.70 a ton on Friday, its loftiest since October 2014, according to The Steel Index (TSI).

The spot benchmark increased more than 23 percent last week, its biggest such gain since TSI began tracking prices in October 2008.

Firmer steel prices have also supported appetite for iron ore, with a number of China’s leading steel mills hiking their prices for mid-November by 400-500 yuan per ton, according to TSI.

But rebar, a construction steel product, closed down 3.2 percent at 2,945 yuan a ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange after hitting 3,220 yuan earlier, its strongest since May 2014.

Signs of China’s property sector cooling off may be a threat to the rally in iron ore as well as copper, analysts at investment bank Barclays said.

“As we head into 2017, any signs of a slowdown in China’s real estate sector could send copper and, particularly, iron ore back down to lower levels, perhaps rapidly,” they said in a report.

Source: Reuters 

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