June 1, 2020 / 3:24 AM / 2 months ago

China iron ore surges 6.4% on robust demand, supply concerns

* Dalian iron ore’s September contract up as much as 6.4%

* Benchmark 62% iron ore spot price soars past $100/tonne

* China iron ore port stockpiles hit 3-1/2-year low - SteelHome

* Iron ore supplier Brazil in focus as coronavirus cases rise

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, June 1 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore futures rose more than 6% on Monday, as strong domestic demand for the steelmaking ingredient and concerns over supply from key exporter Brazil lifted spot prices to their highest in 10 months.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded September iron ore contract climbed as much as 6.4% to 775.50 yuan ($108.92) a tonne by 0408 GMT, extending its rally after a solid 20.1% gain last month, its biggest monthly rise since June last year.

Steel inventories in China have steadily fallen since mid-March, encouraging steelmakers to ramp up output that boosted demand for iron ore and supported prices of the raw material.

“Steel margins in China continue to trend higher, whilst there are concerns over Brazilian supply, amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” said commodity strategists at ING in a note.

A strong appetite for iron ore in mills has brought stockpiles at the country’s ports to 109.5 million tonnes, as of Friday, the lowest since November 2016, based on SteelHome consultancy data. SH-TOT-IRONINV

The spot price for benchmark 62% iron ore bound for China surged to $102.50 a tonne over the weekend, the highest since August 5, SteelHome data also showed. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

Investors, meanwhile, have been on edge over iron ore supply from Brazil, which has recorded the second most coronavirus cases in the world after the United Sates.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 1.3%, as of 0236 GMT, while hot-rolled coil rose 1.2% and stainless steel advanced 0.7%.

* Coking coal gained 1.1% and coke added 1.4%.

* China’s factory activity grew at a slower pace in May but momentum in the services and construction sectors quickened, pointing to an uneven recovery in the world’s second-largest economy as businesses emerge from coronavirus-led shutdowns.

($1 = 7.1119 yuan)

$1 = 7.1197 Chinese yuan Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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