Steel and iron ore futures in China rose on Monday, taking a string of softer economic data in their stride, supported by a stabilising property market and improving physical demand to recover from the biggest weekly slide since 2009.
China’s real estate investment in April kept pace with the previous month, as developers continued to start projects in response to surging home sales, which are giving a much-needed boost to the slowing economy, data showed at the weekend.
That helped to soothe doubts about whether the world’s second-largest economy is stabilising, after other indicators, including China’s fixed-asset investment, factory output and retail sales all grew more slowly than expected in April.
Rebar, or reinforced steel used in construction, climbed 0.7 per cent to 2,053 yuan ($3145) a tonne on the Shanghai Futures Exchange by 0710 GMT. Prices slumped 12 per cent last week as the market retreated from a 19-month high of 2,787 yuan reached on April 21.
Physical traders who had been sidelined as speculation revved up steel and iron markets in April had again become more active in bidding for tenders, said analyst Daniel Hynes at ANZ in Sydney.
“It does feel like there is some good support for the physical market at the moment, which is a good sign for demand,” he said.
“Fundamentals have been broadly supportive over the past few weeks.”
Prices were also steadying after Chinese bourses rolled out fresh rules to curb commodity speculation, contributing to last week’s heavy sell-off.
On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, the most-traded iron ore contract climbed 0.4 per cent to 367 yuan a tonne, but is still down more than 20 per cent from its April peak.
Shanghai hot rolled coil jumped 2.1 per cent. Dalian coke, another steel raw material, however fell 0.9 per cent.
Chinese banks had also sharply cut back new lending in April after a record first-quarter credit spree, reinforcing views that the country’s leaders have turned more cautious about the risks of over-stimulating the cooling economy.
Traders said that if steel markets follow the trend set by Hong Kong’s bourse last year, rallies are likely to be sold.
“A trend starts developing. Retail investors pile in and take it to new highs. Exchange increases fees. The public pulls out or gets forced out … Markets go lower, bringing more pain. Every pop gets sold as longs use it to cut their losses,” one trader said.
In news, the overcapacity problem in China’s steel industry has shown no signs of improvement despite recent increases in prices, the country’s vice minister for industry said on Monday.
China’s April steel production fell from March, although average daily production rates increased, according to Reuters calculations based on data released from the National Bureau of Statistics.
But the recent increase in steel output in China is temporary, with the overall trend still showing a decline in production, the general manager of Baosteel Group said on Monday.
Also in news, China’s government has never encouraged massive exports of steel, the chairman of major steelmaker Wuhan Iron and Steel Group said on Monday.