SHANGHAI, May 18 (SMM) – Prices of imported iron ore are likely to remain rangebound at high levels next week as port inventories shrink. Robust demand across steel mills for high-grade ore and expected, firm prices of coke will also keep prices of imported iron ore high, SMM believes.
As of Friday May 18, iron ore inventories across 35 major Chinese ports stood at 144.8 million mt, down 460,000 mt from 145.27 million mt a week ago. Arriving deliveries at ports in the Shandong and Tangshan areas were stable and departing volumes were significant. Tangshan port closed for a day due to strong winds, which hampered offloading, and inventories at that port dipped.
Daily average volumes delivered from ports this week rose 95,000 mt week on week to stand at 2.54 million mt. Qingdao port saw an increase in its daily average departing volumes as steel mills in Shandong purchased actively this week.
The 1809 iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange came off from highs during the past week, weaker than its performance last week.
In the spot market, prices also fell after previous increases. Pilbara Blend fines at Qingdao port traded at 470-475 yuan/mt on Friday May 18, down 5-10 yuan/mt compared to the start of the week.
Traders became more active this week. Major traders saw regular shipments while medium and small traders made frequent transactions. Steel mills purchased smaller amounts on a more frequent basis, given volatile prices. We saw some larger purchases in the middle of this week.
SMM's MMi Iron Ore Port Index remained unchanged at 484 yuan/wmt fot Qingdao on Friday for 62% Fe fines, compared to Monday May 14.
The index for 58% Fe fines dipped 2 yuan/wmt to 328 yuan/wmt while the index for 65% Fe fines remained unchanged at 579 yuan/wmt.
SMM and its new price index business Metals Market Index (MMi) launched the iron ore port indices on May 2 as port prices continued to gain importance in pricing iron ore.
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