China steel, iron ore futures edge up as risk appetite returns

reuters.com Price,  futures 2018-04-13 14:15:00

Chinese steel and iron ore futures rose on April 13 as the appetite for risky assets returned after U.S. President Donald Trump backtracked on his suggestion of an imminent missile attack on Syria and was now keen on rejoining a trade pact.


Expectations that steel demand in China, the world's top user, will strengthen during the second quarter, when demand typically rises, also supported prices as steel inventories have been declining.


The most-active rebar for October delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.6% at 3,418 yuan/t ($543/t) by 0259 GMT.


The September iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 0.3% to 449.50 yuan/t.


Other commodity futures from copper to nickel also rose and global equities climbed to a three-week high as the investment mood improved after Trump tweeted an attack on Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all," allaying fears of an immediate military action that investors fear could lead to wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.


In another reversal, Trump has asked his trade advisers to look at re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade pact he withdrew the United States from early last year.


"This certainly stirs hopes that he could eventually back down from his tariff threats on China as well," Mizuho Bank said in a note.


China's iron ore imports were 271 million tonnes in the January to March quarter, nearly flat from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed on April 13. That puts imports for last month at 86.3 million tonnes, based on Reuters calculations.


The March number was up from imports of 84.3 million tonnes in February, but down from 95.6 million tonnes a year ago, and also from the January and February average of around 92 million tonnes.


Some shipment issues in leading iron ore supplier Brazil may have affected material unloaded in China in March, said Wang Di, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.


"From the demand side, despite the port stocks staying very high, there's still moderate buying interest from steel mills because they're expecting some pickup in demand."


China's construction activity is usually strongest in April and May, spurring steel demand. Inventories of rebar, a construction steel product, among Chinese traders fell for a third consecutive week last week, to 8.73 million tonnes from a five-year high of nearly 10 million tonnes in mid-March, data showed.


Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB eased 0.5% to $64.47/t on April 12, according to Metal Bulletin.


(Writing by Tammy Yang   Editing by Harry Huo)
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