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China: Iron ore prices to face downward pressure in July

China: Iron ore prices to face downward pressure in July

After performing strongly last month, imported iron ore prices in China will likely meet downward risk in July, as supply-demand fundamentals for the commodity may gradually worsen from those in June and become a drag on prices, Mysteel concluded in its latest monthly report.

Throughout last month, Mysteel SEADEX 62% Australian Fines had increased to $112.15/dmt CFR Qingdao as of June 30, up by $7/dmt from June 1. Also, Mysteel PORTDEX 62% Fe Australian fines index grew by Yuan 65/wmt ($8.9/wmt) from the beginning of last month to reach Yuan 878/wmt FOT Qingdao and including the 13% VAT on June 30.

Last month, the rather buoyant fundamentals of China's imported iron ore market lent healthy support to prices, Mysteel Global noted.

"The resumption of blast-furnace steel production among integrated mills in June was more pronounced than many market insiders had expected," a Shanghai-based market watcher pointed out, saying that these mills were active in lifting their output, so long as they could still earn some money when selling finished steel.

The blast furnace capacity utilization rate among the 247 Chinese steel mills under Mysteel's regular survey climbed steadily in June to reach a 27-month high of 91.98% by June 29, up by a total of 2.05 percentage points on month.

Consequently, steelmakers' demand for iron ore during the ramp-up period remained firm in June, according to him. "So portside iron ore stocks remained largely steady, even though imported iron ore supply increased significantly in the meantime," he said.

The volume of ore arriving at Chinese ports rose in June as a consequence of overseas miners beefing up shipments to global destinations to deliver satisfying business results for their end-June quarter or fiscal year, Mysteel Global noted.

Mysteel's latest survey showed that iron ore stocks piled at the 45 major Chinese ports monitored reached 127.4 million tonnes by June 29, some 518,300 tonnes lower from the total on May 25.

On the other hand, the reason that most mills could still enjoy profits on steel sales - rather than the losses common at this time of year - was because the fundamentals of finished steel have stayed healthy so far, Mysteel's report pointed out. Summer is a slow season for steel use in China when weather events hamper construction, as reported.

Nevertheless, July will see even higher temperatures in many regions across the country, and the consequent fall in steel consumption may lead to a risk of steel stocks accumulating, the report warned.

In this way, many steel mills will no longer be able to enjoy profits from finished steel sales, and some mills' iron ore demand will shrink if they choose to scale back steel production after enduring losses for some time, according to the report.

In fact, the average profit that steelmakers in North China's Hebei earned from selling rebar on June 30 was a meagre Yuan 1/t, narrowing by Yuan 17/t on month, Mysteel's tracking showed.

As a result, despite some fluctuations, China's imported iron ore prices will eventually be lower at the end of this month compared with prevailing levels, the report concluded.

Written by Lea Li, liye@mysteel.com

Steel Mint

Jul 10, 2023 12:02
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