Iron Slides on Weak Yuan
Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures extended their losses on Tuesday, while spot prices slipped into bear market territory, on downbeat demand outlook for the steelmaking ingredient in China and signs that the global supply crunch is easing.
Steel commodities on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were also weaker as prospects for global economic growth and steel consumption dimmed following the latest escalation in the protracted U.S.-China trade war.
The most-traded iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, with January 2020 expiry, slumped as much as 2.8% to 689 yuan ($97.98) a tonne, its weakest intraday level since July 5. It ended down 2.2% at 693.50 yuan.
The yuan’s weakening added to market jitters, although offshore yuan managed to come off an all-time low on Tuesday after Beijing appeared to take steps to prevent the currency from sliding further.
On Monday, China let the onshore yuan break through the key 7 per dollar level for the first time since the global financial crisis, prompting Washington to label Beijing a currency manipulator.
The yuan depreciation will increase operating costs for Chinese importers, Richard Lu, senior analyst at metals consultancy CRU Group’s Beijing office said.
“Steel mills will likely try to avoid buying iron ore at a weaker yuan level,” he added.
Iron ore futures in Singapore lost as much as 6% to $90 a tonne in Tuesday’s trading.
“We have been cautious about iron ore for some time now and continue to maintain that view going into August,” said Edward Meir, commodity consultant at INTL FCStone.
“Weaker Chinese steel rebar prices should have more of an impact just as iron ore supply starts to improve,” Meir said.
* Benchmark spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China tumbled 6.3% to $105 a tonne on Monday, when iron ore futures in both Dalian and Singapore markets crumbled. It was the weakest since June 12 this year, according to data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.
* The spot price was at $99.15 on Tuesday morning, according to broker Commonwealth Securities. That means the commodity has plummeted into bear market territory, having slumped more than 20% from its peak last month.
* There are signs the iron ore supply crunch that sent prices to a five-year high is easing, said Reuters columnist Clyde Russell, citing Brazil’s exports recovery in July, with China importing the most from the South American nation.
* Imported iron ore stockpiles at Chinese ports rose for a third week in a row to 121.05 million tonnes, as of Friday, SteelHome data showed, the highest since June 6 this year.
* The most-active Shanghai construction steel rebar contract, expiring in October 2019, fell 1.9% to 3,707 yuan a tonne, its weakest finish since June 10 this year.
* Hot-rolled steel, used in cars and home appliances, slipped 1,4% to 3,658 yuan a tonne, its lowest close since June 19 this year.
* Other steelmaking ingredients ended mixed, with Dalian coking coal up 0.2%, while coke dropped 0.4%.