Iron ore prices went ballistic on Friday as unprecedented demand from China, constrained supply from Brazil and strained relations between Canberra and Beijing convulse the seaborne market.
According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China (CFR Qingdao) were changing hands for $145.01 a tonne on Friday, up 5.8% from Thursday’s peg.
That was the highest level for the steelmaking raw material since March 2013 and brings gains for 2020 to over 57%.
Prices for 65% fines imported from Brazil are also in high demand, jumping to $157.00 per tonne on Friday, with both grades up more than 20% just over the last month.
The frenzy for ore was also evident on domestic futures markets after the contract hit a record high of 974 yuan ($149 a tonne), forcing China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange to issue a warning to its members to trade “in a rational and compliant manner”.
It has been a busy week for iron ore markets, with top producer Vale saying it expects to miss earlier production targets for this year and 2021, an escalating political row between China and its top supplier Australia, and data from China – where more than half the world’s steel is forged – showing manufacturing and construction expanding at a blistering pace not seen in a decade.