China’s iron ore surges as tight supply concerns resurface
China’s iron ore jumped the most in nearly two weeks on Monday, rallying along with other steelmaking raw materials, amid limited supply as stocks at the country’s ports shrank further, while demand could pick up again.
The most-actively traded iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange gained 3.2% to 729.5 yuan ($105.24) a tonne, pulling away from a three-week low hit on Thursday, before the market closed for a three-day weekend.
Iron ore inventory at Chinese ports hit 121.6 million tonnes as of last week, the lowest since early 2017. Inventories steadily fell in the last four weeks from a peak this year at close to 150 million tonnes.
While China’s iron ore imports rebounded in May from an 18-month-low in April, last month’s shipment was still well down on the same month last year as disruptions to output in Brazil and Australia hampered shipments.
The world’s biggest iron ore consumer brought in 83.75 million tonnes of iron ore last month, up 3.7% from April but down 11% from May 2018, data from the country’s General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.
For the first five months of the year, China imported 423.92 million tonnes of iron ore, down 5.2% on the same period in 2018, customs data showed.
Iron ore cargoes from Brazilian miner Vale SA, one of China’s biggest suppliers, have been cut following a fatal tailings dam collapse in January that had prompted more dam and mine closures in Brazil.
Amid the supply crunch, demand for iron ore could pick up again in the coming weeks, according to Singapore-based steel and iron ore data analytics company Tivlon Technologies.
Tivlon’s analysis “is suggesting further upside in the ferrous complex,” said Tivlon data scientist Darren Toh, adding that China’s infrastructure projects will continue to support demand for iron ore.
Iron ore’s spot price could hit $120 a tonne by August, he said. The benchmark 62% grade iron ore for delivery to China was at $97 a tonne as of June 6.
Other steelmaking ingredients were firmer, with coking coal up 2.8% at 1,415 yuan a tonne, while coke rose 0.7% to 2,126.5 yuan.
Steel futures erased some of their recent losses to edge higher.
The most-actively traded rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.1% at 3,717 yuan a tonne. Hot-rolled coil gained 0.2% to close at 3,576 yuan.
($1 = 6.9321 yuan)
(By Enrico dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)