By Manolo Serapio Jr
SINGAPORE, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Spot iron ore prices steadied
as Chinese steel mills felt no pressure to further boost
stockpiles ahead of the Lunar New Year, limiting deals in the
Most steelmakers in top iron ore importer China may have
adequate inventories of the raw material to last them through
the week-long holiday in February, traders said.
Iron ore prices hit a 15-month high of close to $160 per
tonne earlier this month, reflecting restocking efforts that
began in December.
'Some small- to medium-sized mills are still looking for
reasonably priced cargo, but most are done with stocking up for
the Chinese New Year,' said an iron ore trader in the port city
of Rizhao in China's eastern Shandong province.
Many mills have iron ore inventories that are good for at
least 20 days of use, which may be enough until the end of next
month, he said.
Iron ore with 62 percent iron content, the industry
benchmark, stood at $148.40 a tonne on Monday, little changed
from $148.60 on Friday, based on data from Steel Index.
Price offers for most imported iron ore cargoes in China
were steady on Tuesday, according to Chinese consultancy Umetal.
But Brazilian cargoes were being offered at $1 per tonne higher
amid limited shipments recently from the rain-hit key supplier.
Those keen on buying immediate cargoes may opt for iron ore
lying in ports, although it will be difficult to find cargo
trains to transport them, as the Lunar New Year approaches with
railways clogged by passenger trains, said a trader in Shanghai.
'If they buy now they will have to pay for storage to keep
the iron ore in the ports, so they might as well wait until
after the holiday,' he said.
A dull Chinese steel market is also a disincentive. The
price of steel billet in China's key Tangshan area has been
steady at above 3,200 yuan ($510) per tonne since Friday, and so
are Shanghai rebar futures.
The most briskly traded rebar contract for May delivery on
the Shanghai Futures Exchange was off 0.2 percent at
4,060 yuan per tonne by the midday break. But rebar remains near
Friday's session peak of 4,085 yuan, which was a seven-month
Shanghai rebar futures and iron ore indexes at 0434 GMT
Contract Last Change Pct Change
SHFE REBAR MAY3 4060 -9.00 -0.22
THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX 148.4 -0.20 -0.13
METAL BULLETIN INDEX 149.58 +0.06 +0.04
Rebar in yuan/tonne
Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day
($1=6.2226 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Clarence
Keywords: MARKETS IRONORE/
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