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Iron ore reference prices increase on higher trades - 7 February 2012

Iron ore reference prices ticked up again yesterday with trades concluded at higher levels, Steel Business Briefing notes.

An Australian cargo containing 90,000 tonnes of 57.5% Fe fines and 80,000t of 61% Fe fines was sold at $132.50/t and $144/t respectively, both cfr China. A second Australian cargo, comprising 57.5% Fe and 62.7% Fe fines, was done at $132/t and $148/t, same basis.

The Steel Index’s reference price for 62% Fe material, cfr North China, increased $1.50/t to $144.80/dry metric tonne. The Platts assessment of 62% Fe material, also cfr North China, rose by the same amount to $146.5/dmt.

Offers of Indian iron ore have been increasingly competitive and regular of late, one source says.

Some Chinese mills say they need to restock, despite port inventories topping 100mt, but prices are still seen as high. However, ex-works prices for 150x150mm Q235 billet from major mills increased RMB 30/t over the weekend, lending some support to iron ore.

There could be further rises in billet prices this week given the official end of the Chinese New Year holiday break yesterday, which could see activity increase.

However, the Chinese steel market is still delicately poised, with some sources saying the manufacturing sector needs to improve to provide any real impetus to the finished products market.


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