Iron ore scheduled for May 2014 delivery finished the month of November 0.2% higher in active trading on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. Climbing almost 2% for the month, the most traded iron ore was selling at 939 yuan per ton. This would be the largest gain since August, due in large part to the stockpiling of raw material by China’s steel producers.
All of this is good news for Rio Tinto and Vale, leaders in the iron ore mining industry, supplanting any losses they might see from copper sales, where the prices fell by as much as 3% in November. Data from Steel Index shows that 62% grade iron ore, scheduled for immediate delivery to China rose by 0.3% during the third week of November, selling at $136.40 per ton. Spot iron ore prices also rose in November, by 3.4%, recuperating from their fall in September and October.
It’s not so clear what the future holds as there are various elements coming into play during the winter months. Less consumption by Chinese steel producers means growing stockpiles at the mills, leading to less demand for shipments. Typical end-of-the-year loan payments due from the mills will impact capacity to order new shipments of iron ore material. Iron ore traders are preparing for a slowdown, especially as lending practices tend to constrict at the end of the year. The flattening steel market in China will also impact iron ore futures. Steel prices fell more than 5 percentage points in September and October. They made a feeble recovery in November, but not enough to sustain iron ore price growth during the coming winter months. According to analysts with the China Iron & Steel Association, the cost of production will continue to rise in 2014, further taxing Chinese steel companies.