China iron ore futures pull back from record peak

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Iron ore futures in China fell in early trade on Wednesday as market participants took a breather after the steelmaking raw material’s sustained rally that had brought it to the highest level since the 2013 launch of the index.

The pullback followed news about an increase in transaction fees for all iron ore futures contracts on the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) and a rise in iron ore shipments to China from Australia’s Port Hedland terminal.

The most-active DCE iron ore contract dipped as much as 3.3% to 880 yuan ($127.87) a tonne.

The most-active DCE iron ore contract dipped as much as 3.3% to 880 yuan a tonne

Upbeat prospects for iron ore demand in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of steel, had brought the benchmark to as high as 924.50 yuan on Tuesday, adding fuel to its red-hot rally this year driven mainly by supply tightness.

“You may see some correction today, or maybe tomorrow, but generally speaking, the uptrend is intact, with demand still supporting the prices,” a Shanghai-based trader said.

The DCE said on Tuesday that transaction fees for all iron ore futures contracts will be raised to 0.01% from 0.006% of the trading value, starting July 18.

“That is probably intended to reduce trading activity so that prices would not be that volatile”, said Richard Lu, senior analyst at metals consultancy CRU Group’s Beijing office.

Some analysts believe the Chinese government is starting to address steelmakers’ complaints about skyrocketing iron ore prices.

“I think the government is going to try to break the fever and this may be the first salvo, especially since the supply squeeze should ease going into the second half of the year,” said Edward Meir, independent commodity consultant at brokerage INTL FCStone in London.

China’s government promised it will keep “order” on the iron ore market at a meeting last week with the country’s steel producers who complained about record-high prices, according to a source who attended the meeting.

Fundamentals

Iron ore shipments to China from Australia’s Port Hedland terminal rose more than 11% in June from a month earlier, port data released on Wednesday showed.

BHP Group Ltd, the world’s biggest miner, on Tuesday reported a rebound in iron ore output in the fourth quarter after a cyclone hit production in March, and forecast modest output growth in 2019/20 amid a surge in prices.

Benchmark spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China <SH-CCN-IRNOR62> rose 1.2% to $123 a tonne on Tuesday, moving closer to a five-and-a-half-year high of $126.50 hit on July 3, according to data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.

The most-active October construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was steady at 4,039 yuan a tonne as of 0253 GMT. Hot-rolled steel futures was up 0.4% at 3,914 yuan.

Other steelmaking raw materials were firmer, with Dalian coking coal up 0.5% at 1,417 yuan and coke was 0.2% higher at 2,182 yuan.

($1 = 6.8820 yuan)

(By Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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