Rumored iron ore settlement stirs more questions; spot price offers jump

Feb 24, 2010 | 12:08 PM |

Deal or no deal? That's been the big question hovering over the Chinese iron ore market since word spread that the country's steel mills had agreed to a provisional price hike. And while an answer appears to have emerged, it only sparks further questions.

Nearly two weeks ago, one newswire reported that five major Chinese steel mills had agreed to a 40-percent provisional price hike for iron ore from BHP Billiton. The report cited Hu Kai, a well-connected Chinese analyst who previously had been a key source for other breaking news in the Chinese steel industry.

News of the apparent agreement was trumpeted as excitedly as if it was the real deal—a final benchmark rather than a contingency plan to ensure contracts can be fulfilled.....

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