March 14, 2012 / 7:48 AM / 5 years ago

Iron Ore-Spot price firms, rebar hits 5-week top

* Iron ore climbs to 5-week high
    * Australian Pilbara fines offered at $1 more
    * Gains in steel prices likely to be curbed

 (Updates with rebar price)	
    SHANGHAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Iron ore prices gained
for a second straight session, rising to its loftiest in five
weeks, amid signs steel demand was picking up at key consumer
China.	
     Australian Pilbara fines with 61.5 percent iron content
were being offered at $143 to $145 per tonne, including freight,
up $1 from the previous day, according to industry consultancy
Umetal. 	
    "The overall market sentiment is turning much better amid
growing enquiries from steel mills, and iron ore prices are
expected to rise further," said an iron ore trader in southern
China.	
    Suppliers have also bet on a recovery in Chinese demand and
increased shipment to Chinese steel mills, but some traders
continue to struggle to sell their inventories that were bought
at high cost. 	
    "Import deals are improving with higher tender price, but
transaction of inventories sitting at ports remains weak. Some
traders are keen to sell at higher prices to make up for their
previous losses, while steel mills are not willing to accept,"
an iron ore trader in Shanghai said.	
    Iron ore with 62 percent iron content .IO62-CNI=SI edged
up 0.56 percent to $144.1 a tonne on Tuesday, its highest since
Feb. 7, according to the Steel Index.	
    The most-traded October rebar contract on the Shanghai
Futures Exchange inched up 0.4 percent to a five-week
high of 4,359 yuan ($690) per tonne on Wednesday, its highest
since Feb.6, before falling to 4,325 yuan per tonne at the
close.	
    However, analysts cautioned that high steel production and
slower economic growth in the world's largest steel-producing
region may restrain gains in steel prices. 	
    "The Chinese steel market only marginally improved recently
with limited upside potential but increasingly accumulated risks
of a correction. The steel market is not heading for a
turnaround," Mirae Asset Securities said in a research note.	
    Analysts with Mirae Asset also expect the iron ore market to
face more short-term downside risks as overseas deliveries have
increased.	
    China's daily crude steel runs reached 1.926 million tonnes
in February, up from 1.83 million tonnes in January as mills
began ramping up operations ahead of a predicted recovery in
demand in March and April. 	
    	
  Shanghai rebar futures and iron ore indexes at 0738 GMT
                                                                  
  Contract                          Last    Change  Pct Change    
  SHANGHAI REBAR*                   4337     -16.0       -0.37
  PLATTS 62 PCT INDEX             146.25      1.00        0.69
  THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX     144.1      0.80        0.56
  METAL BULLETIN INDEX            145.22      1.96        1.37
                                                                  
  *In yuan/tonne                                                  
  Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day
 	
($1 = 6.3270 Chinese yuan)	
	
 (Reporting by Ruby Lian and Jacqueline Wong; Editing by Himani
Sarkar)

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