UPDATE 1-Iron ore steadies after slide, on track to end 6-wk rally
* China Q4 GDP grows 7.9 pct, snaps 7-quarter slowdown * Shanghai rebar gains 1.4 pct on GDP data * China steel output rises in early Jan, Dec up 7.7 pct (Updates rebar price) By Manolo Serapio Jr SINGAPORE, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Spot iron ore stabilised on Friday after a rout that slashed prices by more than 6 percent this week as Chinese buying slowed. Further gains in iron ore, which touched 15-month peaks last week, will hinge on Chinese steel prices. Shanghai steel rebar futures rose more than 1 percent on Friday after data showed the world's No. 2 economy snapped a seven-quarter slowdown in the fourth quarter. Benchmark iron ore with 62 percent iron content .IO62-CNI=SI was flat at $145.40 a tonne on Thursday, after falling nearly 5 percent the day before, based on data from Steel Index. "Generally I think iron ore prices will stabilise at $135-$140 in the first quarter. This is a good price level that is acceptable to mills," said an iron ore trader in Singapore. Price offers were mostly steady on Friday, although trades remained scarce, traders said. For the week so far, iron ore has lost 6.1 percent, ending a six-week winning streak that had lifted prices by more than 80 percent above three-year lows hit in September. An unusual move by world No. 3 iron ore miner BHP Billiton , which typically sells to Chinese steelmakers, to buy a cargo on Wednesday helped stem a decline in prices, traders said. Chinese mills could also soon return to the spot market to replenish stockpiles of the raw material with steel production still in full swing. HAZY OUTLOOK China's crude steel output rose 7.7 percent from a year earlier to 57.66 million tonnes in December, government data showed. The country's average daily crude steel output stood at 1.944 million tonnes in the first 10 days of January, up 2.3 percent from Dec. 21-31, according to an estimate by an industry association on Thursday. Given the wild swings in iron ore prices over the past months, many traders have been cautious in buying. The volume of iron ore stocks held by medium-sized iron ore traders has fallen to 700,000-900,000 tonnes from around 1.5 million tonnes before prices slumped to below $90 a tonne in September, said a trader in Rizhao in China's eastern Shandong province. The caution is also partly due to a hazy outlook for steel demand, with China's economic recovery likely to be tepid. Compared to iron ore's over 80 percent surge from September, Shanghai steel futures have only gained by a quarter to hit six-month highs last week. The most active rebar contract for May delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 1.4 percent at 4,002 yuan ($640) a tonne. That followed data showing China's economy regained speed in the final quarter of 2012, after a post-global financial crisis downturn that produced the slowest year of economic growth since 1999. China's gross domestic product grew 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter, slightly higher than market expectations, although an uncertain global outlook means Beijing may need to keep tweaking policy to support growth. Shanghai rebar futures and iron ore indexes at 0718 GMT Contract Last Change Pct Change SHFE REBAR MAY3 4002 +56.00 +1.42 THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX 145.4 +0.00 +0.00 METAL BULLETIN INDEX 145.12 -0.28 -0.19 Rebar in yuan/tonne Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day ($1 = 6.2160 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Tom Hogue and Joseph Radford)
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DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.
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