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China steel falls to one-month low on worries over rising supply

Shanghai rebar steel futures dropped to the lowest in a month on Thursday, pressured by expectations that supply will rise as mills ramp up output amid more lenient production curbs in winter.

Data from the China Iron and Steel Association showed that average daily crude steel production at its member mills stood at 1.97 million tonnes over Oct. 1-20, nearly matching September’s 1.98 million tonnes.

China’s winter heating season typically runs from mid-November through mid-March and the central government, as part of its anti-smog campaign, has allowed cities and provinces to set their own output restrictions this year, scrapping last season’s blanket curbs.

The most-active January rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange touched a session low of 3,910 yuan ($564) a tonne, its weakest since Nov. 8, and was down 0.7 percent at 3,913 yuan by midday break.

Mills are raising steel output while profits remain strong, pushing more supply into the market, said an iron ore trader in Shanghai.

“Some market players are already looking at a weaker steel market next year,” he said.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange gained 0.5 percent to 511.50 yuan a tonne.

Global miner BHP Billiton said it intends to meet its contractual supply commitments to its customers after it forcibly derailed a runaway iron ore train in Western Australia.

BHP suspended all of its rail operations after the incident on Monday but expects to restore partial rail operations in about a week.

Spot iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 was steady at $75.90 a tonne on Wednesday, data published by SteelHome consultancy showed. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

China’s imports of the steelmaking ingredient fell to a four-month low of 88.4 million tonnes in October, reflecting slower shipments from major suppliers even as Chinese demand remained strong ahead of winter production curbs.

“Another reason may be the yuan depreciation,” said CRU analyst Richard Lu. “A lot of iron ore buyers shifted to port stocks from seaborne because it’s much cheaper for them to buy in yuan than in U.S. dollars.”

Coke futures slid 2.6 percent to 2,323.50 yuan a tonne and coking coal dropped 1.4 percent to 1,338.50 yuan.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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