December 4, 2018 / 2:34 AM / 6 months ago

Shanghai rebar hits 7-1/2 mth low as focus returns to oversupply risks

* Hot rolled coil falls to 8-month trough

* Steel traders hesitant to restock amid high supply -analyst

By Manolo Serapio Jr

MANILA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Chinese rebar steel futures dropped to their weakest in more than seven months on Tuesday, resuming their downturn as market focus returned to an oversupplied market in the world’s top producer.

A 90-day ceasefire in the months-long trade war between the United States and China buoyed prices of steel and raw materials iron ore and coking coal on Monday, as risk appetite recovered. But strong supply pressured steel prices again.

The most-traded May rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell to its lowest since April 23 at 3,293 yuan ($480) a tonne and was trading at 3,316 yuan by 0212 GMT, down 0.5 percent.

Hot rolled coil - used in manufacturing - fell as far as 3,200 yuan a tonne, the lowest since March 29.

While demand for long steel products used in construction like rebar in places such as southern China remains firm, supply is far too high, said Richard Lu, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.

“Because of overproduction, traders don’t want to stock up on steel and that’s undermining market sentiment,” said Lu.

Stocks of rebar at Chinese traders fell to 2.94 million tonnes as of Nov. 30, the smallest since December 2017, according to data tracked by Chinese firm SteelHome. SH-TOT-RBARINV

Supply of flat products like hot rolled coil also remains high while demand from the manufacturing sector, including autos, is weak, said Lu.

Benchmark rebar prices have now fallen by a quarter since hitting a seven-year peak of 4,418 yuan in late August. Profit margins at Chinese steel mills shrunk sharply last month, spurring them to curb costs.

The May iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange gained 0.2 percent to 464.50 yuan a tonne.

Coking coal climbed 1.2 percent to 1,383 yuan per tonne and coke rose 1.6 percent to 2,235.50 yuan.

Spot iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 jumped 3.1 percent to $66.90 a tonne on Monday, SteelHome data showed, tracking firmer futures.

$1 = 6.8559 Chinese yuan Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. Editing by Joseph Radford

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