December 26, 2017 / 2:49 AM / 3 months ago

Chinese steelmaking raw materials dive as steel prices sag further

* Spot steel prices fall further

* Steel demand weaker, mills reluctant to restock

* Iron ore, coking coal, coke tumble

SHANGHAI, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore and coke futures stretched losses on Tuesday as steel prices fell further weighed down by the seasonal weakness in demand in the world’s top producer during winter.

Steel demand across the country tapered off as the cold weather interrupted construction activities, the key user of steel products, and steel mills are reluctant to restock raw materials as they are still curbing output.

“Steel demand weakened seasonally even in eastern China now and commercial inventories started to rise as buying activity is thinning and traders are not restocking steel products, driving down raw materials,” said Li Wenjing, a futures analyst in Shanghai.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange tumbled 4.3 percent to 515.5 yuan ($78.91) a tonne by 0217 GMT.

Spot rebar prices dropped 30 yuan to 4,460-4,480 yuan a tonne on Tuesday, after a sharp fall of 250 yuan a tonne on Monday, traders said.

Steel mills in 28 cities have been cutting production for mid-November and mid-March as the government pledged to cut air pollution, and some construction projects and transportation have also been restricted, a move that also dented demand.

The most active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1.3 percent to 3,809 yuan a tonne.

Iron ore inventories at Chinese main ports rose further up 2.66 million tonnes to 146.23 million tonnes by last Friday from a week earlier, according to Steelhome data.

Coke and coking coal slumped more than 3 percent to 2,016.5 yuan and 1,317 yuan a tonne, respectively. ($1 = 6.5330 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Ruby Lian and Ryan Woo; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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