Iron ore markets are looking pretty dull

Welcome to Tangshan!
  • Iron ore markets are quiet.
  • Steel prices got a boost from further reports of production curbs. However, that did not flow through to optimism towards the outlook for mid and higher grade iron ore prices.
  • Most steel and bulk commodity futures contracts rose in overnight trade. The exception was Dalian iron ore futures which fell.

Iron ore markets are looking pretty dull with small movements remaining the dominant theme on Tuesday.

According to Metal Bulletin, the spot price for benchmark 62% fines fell by a solitary cent to $63.91 a tonne.

The price of 65% fines fell by a larger 0.3% to $91.00 a tonne. In contrast, 58% fines jumped by 1% to $37.30 a tonne.

The good, bad and the ugly, sort of.

The mixed performance came despite continue strength in Chinese steel futures on Tuesday.

Rebar futures in Shanghai jumped to as high as 3,881 yuan — the highest level in four weeks — before finishing trade at 3,862 yuan, just above Monday’s night session close of 3,859 yuan.

The strength in steel futures coincided with news that production in Tangshan will be limited until the end of this month in order to improve its air quality, according to Shanghai Metals Market.

Tangshan, in Hebei Province, is a major steel production hub in China.

The group said that all sintering machines and shaft furnaces will be ordered to cut production by half. Steel mills located around the city centre were also told to halve their blast furnace capacity, while others were instructed to reduce capacity by 30%.

Two traders based in Tangshan told Reuters they had seen no sign of mills closing, but said the report had driven up spot prices for steel billets.

Local authorities in Tangshan did not respond to requests for further information.

While that helped to boost steel prices in spot and futures markets, it failed to inspire any additional buying in Dalian iron ore futures.

The September 2018 contract finished the session at 459 yuan, below Monday’s night session close of 462 yuan a tonne.

Coking coal and coke futures finished mixed, the former sliding to 1,142.5 yuan while the latter rose to 2,026 yuan.

As seen in the scoreboard below, while rebar, coke and coking coal futures all pushed higher in overnight trade, iron ore futures fell fractionally.

SHFE Rebar ¥3,889 , 0.73%
DCE Iron Ore ¥458.00 , -0.65%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,147.00 , -0.09%
DCE Coke ¥2,035.50 , 0.42%

The mixed performance provides few clues as to what direction iron ore spot markets will travel today.

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

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