Iron ore holds near $132 as Chinese mills replenish


Spot iron ore prices held just under $132 a tonne, staying within recent trading ranges as some Chinese steel producers replenished stockpiles amid faint signs that steel demand remained healthy.

The price of iron ore, China's top import commodity by volume, has held steady since the Chinese returned from the Golden Week holiday on Tuesday, with buyers not pressed to chase costly cargoes.

"Mills are restocking cautiously. Prices for downstream steel products are still under pressure although sentiment is a bit better," said a Shanghai-based iron ore trader.

There were also plenty of cargoes on offer in the spot market, limiting price gains, traders said.

Benchmark 62-percent grade iron ore .IO62-CNI=SI rose 10 cents to $131.80 a tonne on Wednesday, according to data provider Steel Index.

Global miner BHP Billiton offered a 90,000-tonne cargo of 62.7-percent grade Australian Newman iron ore fines in a tender on Thursday, traders said.

There is market talk the cargo was sold at $133.59 a tonne, a Singapore trader said. That would be higher than Wednesday's $132 for a same grade cargo sold via the globalORE platform, which should keep the benchmark index around current levels, traders said.

Iron ore swaps <0#SGXIOS:> were similarly firmer on Thursday, with October trading at $131.75 a tonne and November at $129.25, brokers said.

"Most people are thinking that the swaps market is not going down so they are buying into the discount," said Jamie Pearce, head of iron ore broking at SSY Futures.

Chinese steelmaker Yangang sold billet at 3,011 yuan ($490) a tonne in a tender on Wednesday, down only 6 yuan from a prior tender, traders said. The previous drop between tenders had been more than 50 yuan.

Stockpiles of five major steel products held by Chinese traders dropped to 13.6 million tonnes at the end of September from 13.8 million tonnes the previous week, according to data compiled by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Inventories of rebar, which accounted for more than 40 percent, slipped to 5.7 million tonnes from 5.8 million tonnes.

"Looking forward, we expect limited downside for steel rebar, as inventories remain on the decline despite record levels of production, indicating end-user demand remains healthy," Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a note.

The most-traded rebar contract for January delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed nearly flat at 3,597 yuan a tonne on Thursday, after hitting a three-month low of 3,541 yuan on Tuesday.

Source from : Reuters