LME Steel Billet Price Weakens as China Cuts Iron Ore Output

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The steel billet cash price fell 1.4 percent on Sept. 27, 2012 to $345.00 per metric ton on the LME, making it the day’s biggest mover on MetalMiner’s steel price index. Also on the LME, the steel billet 3-month price declined 1.3 percent to $346.00 per metric ton.

As the China Iron & Steel Association (CISA) conference in Dalian, China, continued, more news has come to light of iron ore output slowdowns. According to the FT, Liu Xiaoliang, executive deputy secretary-general of the Metallurgical Mines Association of China, “told the conference that low prices have forced about 40 per cent of the country’s iron mines to suspend operations.”

China’s drop in steel demand is causing trouble for iron ore and coking coal consumption and prices, a worrisome proposition for the likes of Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Vale and Anglo American.

As far as commodity risk management goes, the FT reported that “the recent volatility in iron ore prices has caused demand for iron ore hedging products to jump.”

For example, CME Group “announced on Thursday that it was launching a steel rebar swap futures product based on Chinese domestic prices that would begin trading on Nymex next month.”

On the CME, the 3-month price of the US HRC futures contract moved on Thursday. After a few changeless days, prices dropped 1 percent to $609.00 per short ton. The spot price of the US HRC futures contract rose slightly by 0.8 percent to $645.00 per short ton.

Despite the bad news for iron ore producers, Chinese steel and raw material prices closed flat for the day on the MetalMiner IndX℠. The prices of iron ore 58% fines from India remained range-bound. Chinese HRC prices stayed flat, and the price of Chinese coking coal held steady as well.

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