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China steel futures hit record low as export lifeline shrinks

Chinese steel rebar futures fell to a fresh record low in the final morning session before the National Day holiday, with few anticipating any big upturn in demand over the rest of the year, especially as export volumes decline. China’s slowing economy has aggravated long-standing overcapacity problems in its steel sector, by far the world’s biggest, sending prices to their lowest level in more than two decades.

“It is clear the market is getting worse,” said an iron ore trader based in Tangshan, China’s biggest steel-producing city. Chinese steel exports have risen 26.5 percent in the first eight months of the year, helping mask the decline in domestic consumption, but that lifeline was now also under threat. “Steel exports are already in decline in the second half, partly because of weak demand, but also because prices overseas are already lower than costs,” the trader said.

In the Wednesday morning session, the most-traded rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1 percent to 1,820 yuan ($286.34) a tonne, its lowest since its launch in 2009. The most active iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended the morning at 367 yuan a tonne, edging up 0.4 percent. Meanwhile, spot prices continue to decline. Iron ore for immediate delivery to China’s Tianjin port .IO62-CNI=SI dropped 2.3 percent to $54.7 a tonne on Tuesday, hurt by declining Chinese steel prices and rising supplies.

In its quarterly commodities update, Australia’s Department of Industry cut its 2015 iron ore price forecast to $52.9 from $55.4 previously, blaming rising seaborne supplies. Iron ore inventories at 44 Chinese ports SH-TOT-IRONINV reached 82.4 million tonnes by the end of last week, up 2.3 percent on the week, and the Shanghai-based consultancy SteelHome has forecast further increases in the coming weeks. According to Mysteel, spot hot-rolled coil prices in Shanghai MYSTL-H475-SHAN stood at 1,900 yuan per tonne on Tuesday, closing on a record low of 1,890 yuan set in early July. Prices have fallen 37.5 percent since the beginning of the year.

  Rebar and iron ore prices at 0335 GMT
  Contract                          Last    Change   Pct Change
  SHFE REBAR JAN6                   1820    -19.00        -1.03
  DALIAN IRON ORE DCE DCIO JAN6      367     +1.50        +0.41
  THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX      54.7     -1.30        -2.32
  METAL BULLETIN INDEX             56.05     -0.81        -1.42

Dalian iron ore and Shanghai rebar in yuan/tonne

Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day

Source: Reuters

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