April 18, 2018 / 2:48 AM / 6 months ago

Chinese steel prices climb after bank liquidity boost

* Steel, coke, coking coal set for biggest intraday gains in weeks

* Market sentiment lifted as China cuts bank reserve requirements

* Analysts warn long-term economic pressures remain

BEIJING, April 18 (Reuters) - China’s steel futures climbed more than 2 percent on Wednesday, on track for their biggest daily gain in three weeks, as market sentiment was boosted after the country’s central bank announced it would cut the cash banks hold as reserves.

The People’s Bank of China late on Tuesday unexpectedly said it would cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR), the amount of cash that most commercial and foreign banks must hold as reserves to pay back medium-term lending facilities, by 100 basis points for most commercial banks.

“The cut in RRR helps to relieve pressure in capital markets and boost optimism over the macroeconomy,” said Xu Bo, analyst at Haitong Futures.

The most-active construction rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange had gained 2.4 percent to 3,471 yuan ($552.17) a tonne by GMT 0158, set for their strongest one-day advance in three weeks.

Prices for steelmaking raw materials also rose. Iron ore contracts for September delivery jumped 1.7 percent to 447.5 yuan a tonne, on course for their biggest intraday gain since early January.

The most-traded coke futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange surged 4.5 percent - approaching their largest one-day move in 12 months - to 1,847 yuan a tonne. Coking coal prices rose 3.4 percent to 1,153 yuan a tonne.

However, some analysts warned the pickup in the market may just be temporary.

“Despite the RRR cut, downward pressure on the economy remains ... and the slowdown in infrastructure investment is unchanged. That means curbs on long-term steel demand are still there,” said Xu.

CITIC futures said in a note in Mandarin that pressures hanging over iron ore and steel remain due to a slowing destocking process and environmental crackdown at steel mills.

Spot rebar prices edged up 0.03 percent to 4,111.8 yuan a tonne on Tuesday, according to Mysteel consultancy.

Iron ore for delivery to Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB rose 0.6 percent to $64.51 a tonne on Tuesday, according to Metal Bulletin.

$1 = 6.2861 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason Editing by Joseph Radford

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