* China mills cautious, waiting for iron ore to drop further
* China Sept iron ore imports at 20-month high
By Manolo Serapio Jr
SINGAPORE, Oct 15 Shanghai steel futures fell
nearly 2 percent on Monday to their lowest in two weeks,
reflecting slow end-user demand in the world's top consumer and
putting pressure on iron ore prices, whose rapid rise last week
prompted buyers to step back.
The most-traded rebar contract for January delivery on the
Shanghai Futures Exchange was down 1.5 percent at 3,584
yuan ($570) a tonne by the midday break, after hitting a session
low of 3,571 yuan.
"End-user demand hasn't really changed much, it's still not
that great, but there's some buying interest out there, that's
why we're not seeing steel prices fall sharply," said a
Chinese steel prices have rebounded more than 10 percent
since early September, on the back of traders' restocking,
recovering iron ore prices and improved sentiment, but the
bounce is likely to be short-lived, Bank of America-Merrill
Lynch analysts said in a note.
"Mills stay very cautious on the recent price recovery as
they barely see any improvement in end-user demand. Most mills
expect the order book to stay flat month on month in October,"
Sellers of imported iron ore to China cut price offers by $1
to $2 a tonne on Monday, traders said. That should push down the
benchmark 62-percent spot rate .IO62-CNI=SI for the day, after
falling 1.1 percent to $114.50 per tonne on Friday, according to
data provider Steel Index.
Iron ore prices climbed more than 12 percent on Monday and
Tuesday last week as the Chinese snapped up cargoes after a
week-long holiday in early October, but the buying momentum
quickly lost steam after prices surged to 11-week highs.
"The price increase was too fast, so mills turned cautious.
We're not really sure whether iron ore restocking is already
done, because some mills may still need to buy some raw material
in the short term, but are probably waiting for prices to fall
some more before they jump back again," said a second trader in
The upcoming once in a decade leadership transition in China
next month is also adding to the uncertainty in the market, with
the steel sector keen on whether Beijing will be launching more
economic stimulus and pro-growth policies.
That is keeping smaller iron ore traders from taking
positions on cargoes, particularly those due to arrive in
November, concerned they might again end up holding material
that would be difficult to unload if prices fall too sharply, as
they did in recent months.
China's iron ore imports rose to the highest level in 20
months in September, to 65.01 million tonnes, as buyers took
advantage of a decline in prices to replenish stocks, Chinese
data showed over the weekend.
There are few offers on the spot market on Monday, with
Brazil's Vale hoping to sell 48,000 tonnes of
63.35-percent grade iron ore via a tender and an Indian miner
selling 20,000 tonnes of 56/55-percent grade cargo, traders
Shanghai rebar futures and iron ore indexes at 0457 GMT
Contract Last Change Pct Change
SHFE REBAR JAN3 3584 -55.00 -1.51
PLATTS 62 PCT INDEX 116 -2.50 -2.11
THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX 114.5 -1.30 -1.12
METAL BULLETIN INDEX 115.38 -2.29 -1.95
Rebar in yuan/tonne
Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day
($1 = 6.2672 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr., Editing by Clarence