April 10, 2019 / 8:49 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-China's iron ore futures pause after 7 sessions of gains

* Rebar edges up to highest close since 2011

* Chinese demand for steel, iron ore to stay strong

* Coke, coking coal dip more than 2 pct (Recasts, adds closing prices and graphic)

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, April 10 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore futures closed little changed on Wednesday after a seven-session rally to a record peak, but demand for the steelmaking feedstock is projected to remain brisk for some time in the world’s top steel producer.

The benchmark contract gained 16 percent between March 29 and April 9, fuelled mainly by worries about tight supply after the world’s biggest miners flagged lower output or shipment estimates for this year.

Construction steel rebar, however, edged up to its highest close since September 2011 amid improved demand.

The most traded September 2019 iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended the session at 651 yuan ($96.98) a tonne, compared with Tuesday’s close of 652 yuan.

The May 2019 contract, the most active in recent days, dipped 1.1 percent to 702 yuan a tonne, having jumped to as high as 720 yuan on Tuesday, the highest since 2013, when China launched iron ore futures trading.

Spot iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 was up 2.1 percent on Tuesday at $96 a tonne, according to SteelHome consultancy.

The most active rebar contract, with October 2019 expiry, was up 0.4 percent at 3,774 yuan a tonne, extending its rally to the eighth session amid increased domestic demand.

Hot rolled coil ended at 3,690 yuan a tonne, compared with Tuesday’s close of 3,687 yuan.

Steel appetite in China typically picks up at the end of winter, with April and May seen as the peak season as construction activity resumes amid warmer temperatures.

“China’s steel production is expected to remain strong,” said Helen Lau, a metals and mining analyst at Argonaut Securities. “As a result, overall demand for iron ore should (also) remain strong, and ... prices should remain elevated.”

Global iron ore supply may not meet demand this year due to the anticipated reduced supply from Brazil as top iron ore miner Vale SA’s operations were curtailed following a fatal tailings dam collapse in January.

Hit by a tropical cyclone in late March, major iron ore producers in Australia, including Rio Tinto, have lowered their shipment estimates for this year.

Rio, the world’s No. 2 miner of iron ore, said on Wednesday a fire that broke out on Saturday had damaged a facility at one of its Pilbara iron ore operations in Australia, though there was no word on whether it would impact shipping of the mineral.

Other steelmaking raw materials also fell, with coking coal down 2.0 percent at 1,322 yuan a tonne, while coke lost 2.3 percent to 2,017.5 yuan.

China’s government will cap coal imports this year at 2018 levels, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, to support domestic producers, but the country is set to produce more of the fuel this year.

($1 = 6.7126 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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