SHANGHAI, Aug 4 (SMM) – The market sentiment was relatively cautious yesterday (August 3). The iron ore futures fluctuated in a wide range with the mixture of steel mill maintenance and production resumption. The contract once rose by more than 2%, and closed the day with a narrow loss of 0.82% at 786.5 yuan/mt.
In the spot market, the traders were active in selling, while the steel mills restocked on demand. The transactions were moderate as a whole.
The prices of PB fines in Shandong were mostly between 780-795 yuan/mt, down 15 yuan/mt from a day ago; and the prices of SSF were 660 yuan/mt. PB fines were traded at 777-790 yuan/mt in Tangshan, down 10-23 yuan/mt from a day ago.
The fundamentals of iron ore picked up slightly. On the demand side, the blast furnace operating rates rose slightly. According to SMM estimate, the average operating rate of blast furnaces stood at 89.45% as of August 3, up 0.74 percentage point from a week ago. The capacity utilisation rate was 90.01% on average, up 0.19 percentage point week-on-week.
Currently, there are steel mills undertaking maintenance. Though some mills restock the raw materials, they generally keep a low in-plant inventory. Therefore, it will be some time before the iron ore demand fully recovers.
As such, SMM believes that iron ore prices will move rangebound in the near term with the slow recovery of daily pig iron production as well as the goal of stable development on the macro front.