Citi cuts iron ore price forecasts again on supply overhang

MANILA (Reuters) - Citigroup on Thursday slashed its iron ore price estimates for this year through 2018 to as low as $35 a ton, saying supply needs to be reduced amid declining demand.

A green traffic light is pictured in front of a sign board of a Citibank branch in Hanoi, Vietnam July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Kham

The investment bank cut its 2016 forecast to $36 a ton from $41 in its November estimate. It also trimmed its 2017 and 2018 forecasts to $35 for each year from $39 and $40, respectively.

“In a market faced with declining demand, continued curtailment of existing supply will be needed and it is the price at which this is likely to happen that will largely shape prices moving forward,” Citi said in a report.

Citi said roughly 100 million tonnes of global iron ore supply needs to be cut by next year and another 200 million tonnes by 2018.

“We expect the largest curtailments to come from Australia followed by Brazil, but with cuts also expected from Canada, Iran, Russia, Chile, and elsewhere,” it said.

Iron ore fell 40 percent last year, its third annual decline, as big, low-cost miners continued to boost output despite shrinking steel demand in top market China.

A recent rally in the steelmaking commodity to above $43 a ton appeared shortlived as the price slid back below $40 on Wednesday. It touched $37 on Dec. 11, its lowest since at least 2008.

The rapid growth in exchange-traded contracts on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, Singapore Exchange and other platforms has also dragged on iron ore prices, Citi said, with pressure recently from declining Chinese equities.

“Increasingly, iron ore price movements are coming to resemble those of copper, oil, and other financialized commodities with significant influence from macroeconomic factors and financial market sentiment, in addition to supply and demand,” it said.

A Reuters poll of analysts in December showed iron ore could fall below $30 in the next few months as the global glut overwhelms the market.

Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin