Imported iron ore inventories fall, prices rise


Stockpiles of imported iron ore at 25 of China's major sea ports fell to 99.97 million tonnes in the week ending Feb. 13, down 150,000 tonnes from a week earlier, according to the Xinhua-China Iron Ore Price Index on Tuesday.

The price index for 63.5-percent-purity iron ore imports rose 1 point to hit 148 points, and the price index for 58-percent-purity iron ore imports increased 1 point week-on-week to rest at 125 points, according to the index, which is compiled by the Xinhua News Agency to track iron ore inventories and imports in Chinese spot markets.

Only a minority of steel producers replenished their iron ore stockpiles as they had not worked at full capacity and their ore inventories remained abundant. Steel sales are expected to pick up in the near-term with the country's peak manufacturing season approaching, Xinhua analysts said.

Baoshan Iron and Steel Co., one of China's largest steel producers, raised its steel prices for March delivery last week, which may lead to copycat moves by other steel companies and help contribute to the recovery of the sagging steel market, analysts said.

Vietnam decided to raise export tariffs on iron ore from 30 percent to 40 percent from Feb. 7, a blow to China's efforts to diversify its iron ore import sources after India, China's third-largest iron ore supplier, pushed its iron ore export tariff to 30 percent at the end of last year.

However, analysts said Vietnam's move may have limited impact on the imported iron ore market as its ore exports to China accounted for a very small part of the country's total imports.

Import prices of iron ore are expected to trend upward in the near future, analysts added.

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