China's iron ore stockpiles surge
Iron ore stocks at China ports were clocked at 100.2 million tonnes
last week, exceeding 100 million tonnes for the first time since July
2012 according to the customs department.
While iron ore imports into China were also higher at 86.8 million tonnes in January, from 73.4 million tonnes in December and 65.5 million tonnes a year earlier, according to customs data.
So while iron ore stockpiles in China have surged to a record; the iron ore price has fallen back to US$123 a tonne for 62% Fe grade in China.
Are traders and steel mills in China stocking up as the iron ore price re-traces?
On the evidence to date - yes.
However, there is also growing data that shows some ore buyers in China are trading shipments for hard currency then making loans.
Steel mills and traders in China were finding it more and more difficult to get funding before the recent bank lending increased in January. So that may change this practice. What is evident is that it is very difficult to get a "read" at times.
There has also been more iron ore supply on offer.
Handy margins for Australian producers
In Australian dollars, the iron ore price of circa A$135 a tonne still provides a hefty profit margin for companies at the lower end of the operating cost curve.
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