July 20, 2018, 4:50 am
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Shanghai rebar extends gains, aids iron ore

Chinese steel futures rose to trade near a 4-1/2-year high on Thursday as investors remained bullish ahead of production cuts in the world’s top steel producer.

Demand remained strong, encouraging steel mills to keep offer prices high. Iron ore futures also climbed.

The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SRBcv1 was up 1 percent at 3,966 yuan ($595) a ton. 

The construction steel product hit a session high of 3,993 yuan, close to Monday’s peak of 4,013 yuan which was the strongest level since March 2013.

“The order books are full at many mills through August so they’re very aggressive in asking for high prices from customers,” said Richard Lu, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.

“I don’t expect prices to collapse quickly.”

China’s bid to curb steel production by as much as 50 percent in major producing areas such as Hebei province during winter spurred a rally in steel prices this week.

In Hebei, steelmakers are required to comply with state- and province-level emission restrictions by Sept. 1 or they will be shut down, the Hebei Province Environmental Protection Bureau said on Tuesday.

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 1.2 percent to 565 yuan ($84.83) per ton.

While overall iron ore supply in China is high, particularly at its ports, traders said availability of high-grade raw material is limited. Steel producers are increasingly opting for higher grade iron ore to boost efficiency.

“There isn’t a lot of high-grade around and Chinese mills are preferring high-grade because they want to produce more with steel prices rising,” said a trader in Jinan in China’s eastern Shandong province.

Stockpiles of imported iron ore at China’s ports stood at 139.15 million tons on Friday, according to data tracked by SteelHome.

That was not far below the record 141.45 million tons reached in June, but the Jinan-based trader said only about a fifth of that inventory is comprised of high-quality Australian iron ore fines. 

Meanwhile, London copper and aluminum paused near their highest in more than two years on Thursday, amid profit-taking in wider markets as investors fretted about the simmering tensions between the United States and North Korea.

China aluminum extended gains earlier on Thursday to strike its highest since 2012, with investors flooding into the market on prospects that capacity closures in the world’s top producer would tighten supply.

Industry reform across China’s steel and aluminum sectors that has seen capacity closures has helped drive the rally in metals, but there were broader reasons for the move, said analyst Daniel Morgan of UBS in Sydney.

Synchronous global growth for most of this year, China’s resilient property cycle and the weaker dollar have also given investors a reason to get involved, he said.

“I don’t think the rally in metals is due to any one factor.” – Reuters 


 
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