Shanghai steel rebar futures jumped nearly 3% on October 9 as Chinese markets reopened after a week-long holiday, with investors anticipating production cuts in the world's top steel producer as the country fights smog.
Prices of steelmaking raw materials iron-ore and coking coal fell, reflecting worries over weaker demand.
Chinese authorities have ordered heavily air-polluting industries including steel to curb output and cut emissions during the four-month winter heating period that typically begins on November 15.
Some cities have already ordered its mills to reduce output. The city of Handan in the top steelmaking province of Hebei has told its steel mills to halve output from October 1 until March.
The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose as much as 5.3% from the close on September 29 to 3,795 yuan/t ($573/t), the highest since September 21. The construction steel product later cut gains and settled at 3,701 yuan/t, up 2.7%.
Chinese markets were shut from October 2 to 6 for the National Day holiday.
The main driver behind the spike in steel prices is the winter cuts and attention should be paid to detailed plans of the different provinces to measure the material impact on steel production and supply.
But the production cuts would also coincide with the seasonal downturn in consumption during winter, possibly muting any impact on supply and demand conditions.
If all 28 Chinese cities covered by the restrictions slash production by 50%, around 45.67 million tonnes of crude steel output will be lost, Cao Ying, an analyst at SDIC Essence Futures, told an industry conference in Qingdao late last month.
That is equal to nearly 6% of China's 2016 output.
Iron-ore futures reversed initial gains to trade lower amid ample supplies. The most-traded iron-ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed down 2.1% at 442.50 yuan/t on October 9.
Stockpiles of iron ore at China's ports rose 1.8% from the previous week to 133.2 million tonnes as of September 29, just before China went on holiday. The increase in port stocks followed an eight-week decline.
Coking coal futures closed 3% lower at 1,091 yuan/t, after falling to as low as 1,076.5 yuan/t intraday, a level last seen on July 6. Coke slipped 0.8% to 1,884 yuan/t.
(Writing by Jessie Jia Editing by Harry Huo)
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