Iron ore imports by China, the world"s biggest buyer, dropped to the lowest level in six months.
Iron ore imports by China, the world"s biggest buyer, dropped to the lowest level in six months as mills and traders cut purchases on declining steel prices. China bought 49.7 million metric tons of the steelmaking ingredient in August, general customs said today on its Web site. Shipments were 15 percent lower than the 58.1 million tons in July.
Steel prices in China have fallen 18 percent in the past five weeks after an earlier gain spurred record production by mills including Baosteel Group Corp. Declining prices and iron ore imports may help the China Iron & Steel Association argue its case for lower ore prices from Vale SA, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd.
?Steelmakers have been using their ore inventories instead of importing after steel prices fell,? said Hu Kai, a Shanghai- based analyst with industry publication Umetal.
Fortescue Metals Group Co., Australia"s third-largest iron ore exporter, fell 0.9 percent to A$4.22 in Sydney at 2:50 p.m. local time. Rival Murchison Metals Ltd. fell 3.2 percent to A$1.815.
Cash prices for iron ore delivered to China from India have fallen 26 percent to $82 a ton since August, according to Metal Bulletin prices for the week ended Sept. 4. Iron ore from Australia has fallen 28 percent since Aug. 13 to $76.1 a ton yesterday, according to the Steel Index.
Iron ore inventories at China"s major ports reached 76.5 million tons for the week ended Sept. 4, the highest level this year, according to data provided by Beijing Antaike Information Development Co.
For the first eight months, iron ore imports gained 32 percent to 405 million tons from a year ago, customs said.
Steel production rose 22 percent to a record 50.7 million tons last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said today, a fourth straight month of gains.
Steel-product exports from China were 2.08 million tons last month, the customs said. The shipment fell 68 percent to 13.2 million tons for the first eight months from a year ago, the customs said.
China became a net crude-steel importer for the first time in three years in March as the government"s 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus spending spurred domestic demand even as exports collapsed.