Iron ore prices raced to a 15-month high on Monday despite data showing stockpiles of the commodity at China's ports rose for the first time after more than two months of rapid declines.
Benchmark import price of 62% iron ore fines at China's Tianjin port added 0.4% to $153.90 on Monday consolidating an almost $10/tonne jump during the first week of 2013.
Iron ore is now the highest since October 2011, and up an astonishing 75% from its September lows.
Data from China's National Bureau of Statistics out on Monday showed inventories – up 2 million tonnes at just under 73 million tonnes – rising for the first time since October.
After hitting a peak above 100 million tonnes in February, blast furnaces have been scooping up stockpiled ore at an escalating rate, reducing stockpiles to a more than two-year low.
Washington Post quotes a report from Fotis Giannakoulis, a New York-based analyst at Morgan Stanley, an investment bank:
“The sharp rise of iron-ore prices driven by aggressive buying from mills amid higher steel prices is building up the case that demand may be improving on the back of China’s new urbanization initiatives,” Giannakoulis said in the report. “A new wave of purchasing looks possible.”
According to data from the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) out on Monday, Chinese crude steel production from January – November 2012 totaled 660 million tonnes, up 2.9% year-on-year.
China's crude steel output for the whole of last year is expected to total around 720 million tonnes.
Total fixed asset investment in the Chinese steel sector during the first 11 months of 2012 amounted to $95.2 billion (CNY594.6 billion), up a robust 6.5% compared to the year before.