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Shanghai steel jumps 3% on firm demand, lifts iron ore
[MANILA] Shanghai steel futures rose more than 3 per cent on Monday, supported by firmer seasonal demand that has lifted producers' margins and boosted appetite for raw material iron ore.
A spate of recent data showing stabilisation in China's economy also spurred prices higher.
China's home prices in March rose at the fastest in almost two years, based on figures released by National Statistics Bureau (NBS) on Monday.
The most-traded rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 3.2 per cent at 2,391 yuan (S$501) a tonne after rising as far as 2,417 yuan. "We have seen some signs of pick-up in March in terms of economic indicators and that continues to raise the sentiment from market participants," said Kevin Bai, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing, noting that spot steel prices in China rose at the weekend.
China posted its slowest economic growth since 2009 in the first quarter but a surge in debt appears to be firing a recovery in factory activity, investment and household spending in the world's No. 2 economy, according to data out on Friday.
On Monday, NBS data showed that average new home prices in 70 major Chinese cities rose 4.9 per cent last month from a year ago, picking up from February's 3.6 per cent gain.
On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, September iron ore climbed 2.8 per cent to end at 425.50 yuan a tonne, off the day's high of 436 yuan.
June iron ore on the Singapore Exchange advanced 3.2 per cent to US$55.05 a tonne.
Last week's upturn in steel prices also lifted iron ore prices before the rally lost steam towards the end of week.
The improvement in steel demand in China will be relatively seasonal and could ease by June when hotter weather slows down construction activity, said CRU's Bai. "And if producers remained profitable now, then supply should increase and that will be a downward risk for prices," Mr Bai said.
Iron ore for immediate delivery to China's Tiajin port fell 1.9 per cent to US$57.50 a tonne on Friday, according to The Steel Index. The spot benchmark trimmed its gains for last week to 7.9 per cent after dropping on both Thursday and Friday.
Any gains in iron ore prices will not be sustainable, BMI Research said in a note. "The Chinese steel market will remain persistently oversupplied, with domestic surpluses averaging 100 million tonnes during 2016-2020," BMI, a part of Fitch Ratings, stated in a report.