China steel futures edge higher on stimulus hopes

Thu, 15th Aug 2019 04:06

* Hot-rolled coil up for 4th day

* Steel rebar rises for 3rd day

* Iron ore falters on weak demand

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Steel futures in China rose in early trade on Thursday as market participants hoped Beijing would roll out more measures to stimulate the slowing domestic economy, but steelmaking raw materials were under pressure on weak demand outlook.

The most-traded October 2019 contract for hot-rolled coil , used in cars and home appliances, on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose as much as 0.8% to 3,728 yuan ($530.50) a tonne, extending its gains for a fourth straight session.

The construction steel rebar index was up as much as 0.6% at 3,718 yuan a tonne, extending its rebound for a third day.

Shanghai steel futures managed to push higher on Wednesday despite unexpectedly weak Chinese economic data for July, including a marked slowdown in industrial output growth amid a protracted U.S.-Sino trade war.

"Investors took a glass half full approach to the weak economic data in China, with expectations of extra stimulus measures rising," ANZ Research said in a note.

Support for steel prices is also seen intact as some Chinese steelmakers have decided to reduce their output to prop up weak prices and thus boost profit margins squeezed by high costs of raw materials.

Iron ore prices retreated, however, with the Dalian Commodity Exchange benchmark falling as much as 2.7% while futures in Singapore dropped as much as 2.1% on downbeat demand prospects for the steelmaking material.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most-active Dalian iron ore contract, with January 2020 expiry, was down 0.9% at 630 yuan a tonne as of 0245 GMT.

* In Singapore, the most-active September 2019 iron ore contract was down 1.0% at $87.48 a tonne.

* Iron ore prices have cooled, as a supply squeeze fades but a hoped-for Chinese boost to demand remains elusive, according to Reuters Breakingviews columnist Clara Ferreira-Marques.

* Benchmark spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China, as assessed by SteelHome consultancy <SH-CCN-IRNOR62>, settled at $91.50 a tonne on Wednesday, rebounding from its lowest in more than four months, hit early this week.

* Other steel ingredients were mixed, with Dalian coking coal up 0.3% at 1,329 yuan a tonne, but coke edged down 0.2% to 1,986 yuan.

* For the top stories metals and other news, click or ($1 = 7.0273 yuan) (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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