The price of lower grade iron ore just hit the highest level in months

Kevin Frayer/Getty ImagesYes, it was a big move higher.
  • Iron ore spot markets diverged sharply on Tuesday with gains in mid and lower grades masking weakness in more efficient ores.
  • The price for 58% fines surged to the highest level since mid-March.
  • Chinese steel and bulk commodity futures were largely unchanged during Tuesday’s night session.

Iron ore spot markets diverged sharply on Tuesday with gains in mid and lower grades masking weakness in more efficient ores.

Lower steel prices in China may have been a factor.

According to Metal Bulletin, the price for benchmark 62% fines rose 0.2% to $69.24 a tonne, logging its first increase in a week.

It currently sits just below the multi-month high of $69.82 a tonne struck on September 18.

While the benchmark was little changed, lower grades scooted higher over the session.

The price for 58% fines jumped 3.4% to $40.98 a tonne, leaving it at the highest level since March 15, 2018.

In contrast, more expensive and efficient grades went in the other direction with the price of 65% Brazilian fines dipping 0.8% to $95.80 a tonne.

The divergence in prices may have been explained by weakness in Chinese steel futures on Tuesday.

Rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange finished trade at 4,060 yuan, down 1.8% from Friday’s day session close. Concern about an escalating trade war between China and the United States was seen as one factor that may have contributed to the weakness, particularly as Chinese markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.

The downdraft in steel contracts filtered through to iron ore futures in Dalian which finished the day at 497 yuan, near the lowest level in two weeks.

Coking coal and coke futures also softened, falling 0.2% and 1.4% from Friday’s day session close to 1,277.5 and 2,316 yuan respectively.

As seen in the scoreboard below, all four contracts managed to eke out small gains over Tuesday’s night session.

SHFE Rebar ¥4,062 , -0.68%
DCE Iron Ore ¥499.50 , 0.50%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,284.50 , -0.04%
DCE Coke ¥2,319.00 , -0.88%

There was little reaction to news that growth in Chinese crude steel output slowed sharply in the year to August, increasing by just 2.7% to 80.3 million tonnes, according to the World Steel Association, down from an annual rate of 7.2% in July.

Including all other nations included in the data, crude steel output increased 2.5% over the year to 151.7 million tonnes.

Trade in Chinese commodity futures will resume at 11am AEST.

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