China's imported iron ore market declined for a sixth consecutive week, the longest period since a slump in October 2011, dragged down by a weakening steel market.
Spot prices of 63.5% Fe content Indian fines stood at $137-138 per tonne cfr China on Friday May 25, unchanged from Thursday but down $2 compared with a week ago.
The prices are now at their lowest level since November 9.
"The pace of the fall in iron ore prices appears to be slowing down, but the downward trend will not end in the short term as steel prices are still declining every day," one iron ore trader in Shanghai said.
"Most people are just watching and waiting at the moment, as nobody knows where the bottom is," a trader in Hong Kong said.
BHP Billiton concluded a tender at $123.50 per tonne cfr for 90,000 tonnes of 57.7% Fe Yandi fines and $135.50 per tonne cfr for 100,000 tonnes of 62.7% Fe Newman fines on Friday, sources said.
Market views are mixed with some participants expecting that prices of 62% Fe fines to bottom out at $120 per tonne cfr, while others are of the opinion that the market was already near the bottom.
"The market just takes a rest before it falls further," another trader in Shanghai said.
"Things will not improve unless steel output descends from the current record high and stays at a lower level for a period of time," the first Shanghai trader said.
But others are less pessimistic.
"I feel that the market should rebound a little after over a month of falls. The price has dropped by over $15," the Hong Kong trader said.
In general, $120-130 cfr is considered a reasonable range, but most market participants would continue to have a difficult time next month due to slack downstream demand, a Shandong trader said.
Even if there was a rebound, it would be very limited, he added.