Iron ore tops $190/t as markets fear peak

Seaborne iron ore prices broke new records on Tuesday, supported by portside restocking ahead of the 1-5 May Labour Day holiday. Scrap prices too have increased, but steel markets are concerned that markets may turn weaker before the summer.

The Kallanish KORE 62% Fe index gained $3.84/t to $190.03/dry metric tonne cfr Qingdao, topping $190/t for the first time. The Kallanish KORE 65% Fe index increased $4.09/t to $223.81/dmt cfr, and the KORE 58% Fe index advanced $3.84/t to $168/dmt cfr. 170,000t of Carajas Fines shipped on 13 April sold at $227.8/t.

On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, September iron ore settled up another CNY 13.5/t at CNY 1,150.5/t ($177.35/t), while on the Singapore Exchange May 62% Fe futures settled up $2.72/t at $190.25/t. The same contract for 65% Fe and 58% Fe futures settled up $2.83/t at $225.33/t, and up $2.34/t at $169.42/t respectively.

Chinese ferrous scrap prices have also continued to appreciate, though less dramatically. Variety 6mm+ heavy scrap delivered to mills in the Yangtze River Delta region increased CNY 8/t to CNY 3,540/t on Tuesday. In Tangshan, billet prices were flat at CNY 4,980/t.

Steel traders are beginning to show concerns that demand is starting to peak, and that construction activity could slow by mid-summer. Combined with a looser iron ore market from June onwards, they fear that could mean prices start to slide over the coming weeks.

Tomas Gutierrez UK