SHANGHAI Chinas iron ore imports and finished steel exports both rose in March compared with the previous month, according to preliminary Chinese customs data.
A 14.4-percent increase in iron ore shipments to 64.55 million tonnes was attributed to Chinas high crude steel production, which averaged 2.07 million tonnes per day in March (amm.com, April 9), up 3.3 percent from February, according to China Iron and Steel Association estimates.
Iron ore imports for the first three months of the year totaled 186.48 million tonnes, little changed from the same period last year.
Chinas finished steel exports totaled 5.28 million tonnes in March, up 24.5 percent from 4.24 million tonnes in February and 5 percent above the same month last year. March exports also were higher than the first-quarter average of 4.81 million tonnes per month and the 2012 monthly average of 4.64 million tonnes.
"The further boom in the export market since mid-January led to a large increase in export volumes in March," a trader in Shanghai told AMM sister publication Steel First.
The steady rise in export prices has spurred traders and buyers to book more cargoes in anticipation of further price hikes.
Chinas export prices for commercial hot-rolled coil (4.5- to 12-millimeters thick) were $610 to $620 per tonne f.o.b. Feb. 22 vs. $590 to $600 per tonne Jan. 18. Export bookings for March shipment were made between mid-January and mid-February.
Finished steel exports in the first three months of the year totaled 14.43 million tonnes, up 18.8 percent from the same period last year.
However, exporters arent expecting shipments in April or May to be as high, based on transaction records. Bookings have thinned since Chinese steel prices started to weaken in March, traders said.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.