Iron ore pulls back as China steel margins come under pressure
Iron ore futures slipped on Tuesday as Chinese steel margins came under pressure, while investors assessed whether further gains could be justified as data showed the country’s industrial output and steel production accelerated in August.
The most-traded January 2021 iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange closed down 1.8% at 827.50 yuan ($121.96) a tonne.
The steelmaking ingredient’s October contract on the Singapore Exchange fell 1.5% to $123.73 a tonne by 0702 GMT, pulling back from a record high near $130 a tonne.
China’s industrial output rose at the fastest pace in eight months in August, while its crude steel production set a monthly record high, suggesting the economic recovery was gathering pace in the world’s top consumer of metals.
“Fundamentals (are) looking toppish,” said Howie Lee, economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore. “Iron ore inventories in China rose again and…steel stockpiles have continued to stay elevated.”
Dalian iron ore has risen more than 60% this year, while the SGX benchmark has gained about 50%, underpinned by China’s strong demand as it continued to ramp up steel output after rolling out infrastructure-led economic stimulus measures.
With higher raw material costs, Lee said: “There is a bit of pressure on steel margins at current prices, especially with rebar prices not rising as quickly as iron ore.”
* Brazilian miner Vale is expected to meet the bottom end of its output guidance for 2020, Credit Suisse analysts said after meeting with the firm’s executives.
* Tracking Monday’s gains in futures prices, benchmark 62% iron ore’s spot price had climbed back to $128.50 a tonne, the highest since January 2014, SteelHome consultancy data showed.
* Construction steel rebar slumped 1.9% on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, while hot-rolled coil dropped 1.5%, but stainless steel rose 0.4%.
* Coking coal slipped 0.3% and coke lost 0.4%.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Rashmi Aich)