Imported Chinese iron ore spot prices started the year on a steady note, as trading was minimal with many traders still out on vacation.
Imported Chinese iron ore spot prices started the year on a steady note, as trading was minimal with many traders still out on vacation. As such, the Platts reference price of 62/62% Fe-content iron ore fines was unchanged at $70/dry metric ton CFR North China. Suppliers who were in the office said there were no discussions Friday with the Chinese buyers on holiday.
"Discussions will start next week, and then we will see how the market behaves," an Indian trading source said Friday. Essel Mining reported that the highest bid received for its offer last week was $78-79/dmt CFR North China for a Handysize cargo of 63.5% Fe-content fines. "We've not accepted, we are requesting $82/dmt CFR North China," said an Essel trading source. Essel Mining also had an FOB offer for 63.5% Fe-content iron ore material for loading in January, but discussions for this spot lot were due to start next week, the source added.
Meanwhile, on the freight market there were reports of 15-day delays still at Haldia Paradeep, and offers of $10/wet metric ton including demurrage costs for a Panamax double-port loading on the East Coast of India. A trader commented that the port congestion dampened the bidding interest for FOB cargoes, due to the prolonged waiting time, which adds extra costs.
2008 marked by iron price volatility
The year 2008 was a volatile one for iron ore spot pricing in China. Import spot prices reached $177.50/dmt CFR North China for 62/62% Fe-content fines at the beginning of July -- the highest level since Platts started databasing iron ore prices in June 2008. From July, prices fell nearly 70% to $54/dmt CFR North China in early November. Prices dropped as the economic crisis spread across the globe, impacting steel production and iron ore demand in China.
Since then, spot levels have rebounded to $70/dmt CFR North China for 62/62% Fe fines. The Chinese started to buy again when coking costs fell and steel demand started to pick up. That said, any renewed demand has not been consistent, and many traders believe that if the market is to rebound it will not be until after the Chinese New Year in late January.