August 26, 2019 / 3:33 AM / 23 days ago

China steel futures slump as trade war intensifies

* Shanghai rebar hits lowest in over 6 months

* Coke slumps to weakest in more than 7 months

* Dalian, Singapore iron ore resume slide

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, Aug 26 (Reuters) - China’s steel and iron ore futures were weaker across the board in morning trade on Monday, mirroring the gloomy mood in global financial markets due to a further escalation of the U.S.-Sino trade conflict.

Benchmark contracts for steel products used in construction and manufacturing slumped as worries increased over prospects for demand in top steelmaker China, already hit the bruising trade war, dragging prices of steelmaking raw materials.

The most-active construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, with January 2020 expiry, fell as much as 1.8% to 3,375 yuan a tonne, its lowest since Feb. 21 this year.

Hot rolled coil steel used in cars and home appliances also dropped 1.8% to as low as 3,657 yuan a tonne, its weakest since Aug. 13 this year.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced an additional 5% duty on some $550 billion in targeted Chinese goods on Friday, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.

Strongly opposing Washington’s latest tariff move, China has warned the United States of consequences if it does not end its “wrong actions”.

“The U.S.-China trade war has intensified, and aside from the direct impact of tariffs, the uncertainty generated by the conflict is proving to be toxic for business confidence and investment decisions,” Westpac IQ said in a note.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most-traded January 2020 iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, fell as much as 1.7% to 594 yuan a tonne, quickly giving up early gains.

* ANZ Research reiterated its assessment that the recent iron ore selloff was overdone, and that prices are expected to stabilise at current levels in the near term.

* Benchmark 62% iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62, as assessed by SteelHome consultancy, was steady at $86.50 a tonne for third day in a row on Friday, the lowest since March 29.

* In the Singapore Exchange, the front-month September 2019 iron ore contract sank as much as 4.8% to $83 a tonne.

* Fortescue Metals Group on Monday said its annual profit nearly tripled and declared a bumper dividend, helped by robust output and soaring iron ore prices amid a supply crunch.

* Other steelmaking ingredients also traded lower, with Dalian coking coal down as much as 0.8% at 1,319.50 yuan a tonne, while coke slumped 3.2% to 1,887 yuan, its weakest since Jan. 4 this year.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares were a sea of red on Monday as the latest salvo in the Sino-U.S. trade war shook confidence in the world economy and sent investors steaming to the safe harbours of sovereign bonds, gold and the Japanese yen.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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