Iron ore sinks lower as China loses confidence

Seaborne iron ore markets slumped further on Monday as the decline at the end of last week was joined by falling steel futures prices on Monday. China’s leadership expressed concern over the economy over the weekend, and sentiment has been hit across several markets.

The Kallanish KORE 62% Fe index collapsed $10.62/t to $186.18/dry metric tonne, the lowest level since April. The Kallanish KORE 65% Fe index fell $10.45/t to $220.14/dmt cfr, and the KORE 58% Fe index dropped $13.22/t to $152.77/dmt cfr. 170,000 tonnes of PB Fines sold at a floating price, while 90,000t of Newman Fines sold at $183.9/t with a laycan in 26 August-4 September.

On the Dalian Commodity Exchange September iron ore settled down CNY 21/t at CNY 1,042/t ($161.28/t), while on the Singapore Exchange September 62% Fe futures settled up $1.25/t at $178.05/t. The same contract for 65% Fe and 58% Fe futures settled up $1.09/t at $209.09/t, and down $8.45/t at $144.80/t respectively.

Although mills were still holding scrap purchasing prices level, or even increasing slightly, billet prices slumped alongside finished steel market sentiment. 6mm+ heavy scrap delivered to mills in the Yangtze River Delta inched CNY 3/t higher over the weekend to CNY 3,794/t on Monday. In Tangshan, billet prices dropped CNY 50/t over the weekend and another CNY 50/t on Monday to CNY 5,170/t.

China’s Politburo held its quarterly meetings last week and a statement released over the weekend expressed concern over the economy. Expectations of slowing economic growth in the second half-year have pushed the Politburo to urge the speeding up of issuance of special purpose bonds. The rhetoric is a break from moves to control credit levels and has been taken as a sign that the economic slowdown is more serious than China’s leaders expected.

Tomas Gutierrez UK