December 26, 2017 / 7:27 AM / 6 months ago

Chinese steelmaking raw materials dive as steel prices sag further

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore and coke futures stretched losses on Tuesday as steel prices fell further, weighed down by the seasonal weakness in demand in the world’s top producer during winter.

Steel demand across the country tapered off as the cold weather interrupted construction activities, the key user of steel products, and steel mills are reluctant to restock raw materials as they are still curbing output.

“Steel demand weakened seasonally even in eastern China now and commercial inventories started to rise as buying activity is thinning and traders are not restocking steel products, driving down raw materials,” said Li Wenjing, a futures analyst in Shanghai.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange tumbled 3.2 percent to 521.5 yuan ($79.64) a ton by close.

Spot rebar prices deepened losses on Tuesday, down further by 100-160 yuan to 4,330-4,350 yuan a ton in Shanghai, after a sharp fall of 250 yuan a ton on Monday, traders said.

Steel mills in 28 cities have been cutting production for mid-November and mid-March as the government pledged to cut air pollution, and some construction projects and transportation have also been restricted, a move that also dented demand.

The most active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1 percent to 3,822 yuan a ton.

Iron ore inventories at Chinese main ports rose further up 2.66 million tonnes to 146.23 million tonnes by last Friday from a week earlier, according to Steelhome data. [SH-TOT-IRONINV]

Coke dropped 2.9 percent to 2,027.5 yuan a ton and coking coal declined 2.6 percent to 1,326 yuan a ton, respectively.

Reporting by Ruby Lian and Ryan Woo; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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