Iron ore is languishing at an 11-month low

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The spot price for benchmark iron ore has fallen to an 11-month low.

According to Metal Bulletin, the price for 62% fines fell by a further 1.07% to $55.43 a tonne on Wednesday, leaving it languishing at the lowest level since July 8, 2016.

Wednesday’s decline extended the drop from February 21 to 41.6%.

Higher grade ore also softened, although not to the same degree as the benchmark, while lower grades found a bid after tumbling lower on Tuesday.

The price for 58% fines jumped 2.13% to $38.77 a tonne.

The slide in higher grades came despite renewed strength in Chinese steel prices on Wednesday, said Metal Bulletin.

“China‚Äôs spot rebar prices turned around on Wednesday June 7 following an increase in the billet market in the morning. The increase in the price of billet helped thin the bearish sentiment in the spot market, encouraging traders to raise their prices during the day,” the group said, citing market sources.

The mixed performance across the grades followed news that iron ore exports from Port Hedland, the world’s largest iron ore loading terminal, hit a record high in May, according to data released by the Pilbara Ports Authority.

The group said that exports totalled 44.076 million tonnes for the month, surpassing the previous record high of 43.937 million tonnes set in December last year.

Compared to a year earlier, exports surged by 11.9%, leaving total iron ore shipments over the past year at a mammoth 493.3 million tonnes.

Exports to China, at 38 million tonnes, also hit a record high, rising a mammoth 20% from the levels of a year earlier.

Iron ore port inventories in China swelled to as high as 136.6 million tonnes last month, according to data from Shanghai Steelhome, leaving them sitting at the highest level on record. They currently sit 36% above the levels reported this time a year ago.

Continuing a familiar theme, Chinese iron ore futures were quiet in overnight trade, providing no indication as to what direction spot markets will move today.

The September 2017 contract on the Dalian Commodities Exchange fell 0.46% to 429.5 yuan, closing trade around the same levels as Wednesday’s day session.

Rebar futures also slipped, falling 0.44% to 2,952 yuan, while coking coal and coke futures recorded modest gains.

Trade in Chinese futures will resume at 11am AEST, shortly before the release of Chinese trade figures for May that will include iron ore imports.

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