June 11, 2019 / 2:39 AM / 2 months ago

Dalian iron ore jumps on worries about supply crunch

* Supply crunch would persist in short term -analysts

* Imported iron ore stock hits 2.5-yr low -SteelHome

* Steel inventory continued to fall last week -Mysteel

BEIJING, June 11 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore futures surged more than 4% on Tuesday on expectations that big miners will be unable to expand production to meet hungry demand, with steel output set to remain high in coming months.

The most-traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange were up 3.9% at 745.5 yuan ($107.79) a tonne as of 0157 GMT, having risen as much as 4.2% to 747.5 yuan earlier in the morning.

China’s iron ore imports rebounded in May from an 18-month low in April, but were still well down on the same month last year, as disruptions to output in Brazil and Australia hampered shipments.

While Chinese steel prices have eased recently on concerns about longer term demand, they are still at levels where mills are making profits.

“Tight supply is unlikely to be eased in the short term, but demand for iron ore will be robust despite the moderation of profit margins at steel mills,” said analysts from Huatai Futures in a note.

Inventory of imported iron ore at Chinese ports has fallen to 121.6 million tonnes, its lowest level in two and a half years, data from SteelHome showed.

Meanwhile, utilisation rates at steel mills across China stood at a relatively high 71.44% last week as of June 7, data compiled by Mysteel consultancy showed, underlining strong demand for the ferrous metal, although mills in the top steelmaking city of Tangshan have been ordered to trim output in June.

Benchmark Shanghai rebar prices rose 1.9% to 3,772 yuan a tonne, while hot-rolled coil, a manufacturing grade steel sheet, advanced 1.6% to 3,614 yuan.

Steel stocks at Chinese traders continued to fall last week, down 1.2 percent to 10.89 million tonnes, with rebar inventory at 5.39 million tonnes and hot-rolled coil at 2.09 million tonnes, Mysteel data showed.

However, Baoshan Iron & Steel, the listed arm of China’s top steel maker, said on Monday it will cut hot-rolled coil prices for July delivery by 100 yuan per tonne, a sign of waning demand.

Other steelmaking raw ingredients also edged up alongside rising steel prices.

Dalian coking coal gained 1% to 1,413 yuan a tonne, and coke futures rose 0.8% to 2,148 yuan.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he was ready to impose another round of punitive tariffs on Chinese imports if he cannot make progress in trade talks with China’s President at a Group of 20 summit later this month, which would cloud outlook of steel demand in the second half of this year.

$1 = 6.9165 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; editing by Richard Pullin

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