Anti-Smog Measures Halt Bulk Handling at Tianjin

Lu Feng / flickr

By Reuters 2016-12-21 14:53:31

Chinese steel and iron ore futures dropped for a sixth consecutive session on Wednesday as heavy smog that has enveloped most of northern China curbed demand.

Construction activity has halted and many steel mills were ordered to reduce output to help rein in emissions, traders say, as northern Chinese cities including the capital Beijing saw thick smog for a fourth day.

Tianjin port, one of China's busiest, has stopped handling coal, iron ore and other non-liquid products, traders familiar with the move said on Tuesday.

"I can't see anything from my window," said a Tianjin-based trader who has opted to stay home given the poor visibility in the city. "Our cargo agent will inform me when the port will reopen."

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was down 0.8 percent at 564 yuan ($81) a ton by midday break. It has lost 14 percent since hitting a nearly three-year high last week.

Due to the heavy smog, authorities have asked mills in northern China including in the top steel-producing province Hebei to restrict production, said a trader in Shanghai.

"Some mills are not running on full capacity to reduce emissions," he said, adding that steel supply was high.

Rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slipped to 3,135 yuan per ton, down 12 percent since touching a 32-month peak last week.

Physical iron ore trading had a similarly bearish tone, pushing the spot price back below $80 a ton.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port slid 2 percent to $79.62 a ton on Tuesday, according to Metal Bulletin. The spot benchmark touched a two-year high of $83.58 on Dec. 12.