The last time Shanghai rebar traded this low iron ore was at $87

On Thursday Shanghai rebar, the most actively traded steel futures contract worldwide, dropped close to its 2013 low of 3,422 yuan ($558).

The contract is down more than 16% year to date and within shouting distance of the all-time record low of $550 hit 6 September last year.

While Chinese prices are the most closely watched – the country forges almost as much steel as the rest of the world combined – hot-rolled coil spot prices hit recent record lows in European, US and Turkey.

Not only did the much-hoped for European recovery never materialize with the majors led by ArcelorMittal continue to bleed money, the vaunted US recovery now seems to have evaporated.

According to market data provider, The Steel Index, initial data suggests steel imports to the US slowed in May to reach the lowest level for 29 months.

While US mills have cut back production almost 9% year on year, the Chinese mismatch between production and demand has reached breaking point.

Daily crude steel output in the world's second largest economy has stayed at a record setting pace above 2 million tonnes a day since mid-February leading to dumping on regional markets putting further pressure on prices.

Market sentiment in Asia is prevailingly negative, with 91% of respondents to the latest TSI survey expecting prices to fall further.

Asian steel and Chinese iron ore import prices never diverge for too long.

The September drop in reinforcing bar used in construction coincided with the sharp drop in the price of iron ore which hit a three-year low of $86.70 during the same week.

On Thursday the benchmark import price of 62% fines at China's Tianjin port dropped 2.3% or $2.70 to trade at just under $114 a tonne, wiping out much of Monday's sharp gains.

If history is a judge, iron ore should be at least $25 below current levels.

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