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June, 23rd 2021

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MAY 11
15:23

Iron ore pauses, scrap catching up

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Seaborne iron ore prices took a breather on Tuesday after the dramatic hike the previous day. Scrap prices meanwhile have continued to inch higher.

The Kallanish Kore 62% Fe index slipped $1.03/t to $225.04/dry metric tonne cfr Qingdao. The Kallanish KORE 65% Fe index dipped $0.62/t to $258.91/dmt cfr, and the KORE 58% Fe index inched $0.48/t higher to $181.70/dmt cfr.

On the Dalian Commodity Exchange September iron ore settled up CNY 15/t at a record CNY 1,300/t ($202), while on the Singapore Exchange June 62% Fe futures settled down $1.33/t at $221.07/t. The same contract for 65% Fe and 58% Fe futures settled down $1.23/t at $255.63/t, and up $3.46/t at $180.98/t respectively.

Chinese scrap prices are still being dragged higher by the latest surge. 6mm+ heavy scrap delivered to mills in the Yangtze River Delta gained CNY 39/t on Tuesday to CNY 4,011/t. In Tangshan, billet prices gained another CNY 20/t to CNY 5,670/t.

Chinese exchanges are coming under pressure to curb price hikes. The Dalian Commodity Exchange said it could increase margin requirements for iron ore contracts and end a waiver in transaction fees. It has also begun a review of the contract delivery standards for its iron ore futures. Although these moves could help to curb on-exchange speculations, iron ore prices have been driven as much by trends outside China as inside.

China also finally released its delayed census data on Tuesday. The numbers show very slow population growth and a sharp increase in the proportion of the population over 60. The steadily shrinking working age population is expected to create economic headwinds in the years to come.

Tomas Gutierrez UK