RPT-COLUMN-China’s appetite for iron ore remained robust in April – by Clyde Russell (Reuters Africa – May 3, 2016)


LAUNCESTON, Australia May 3 (Reuters) – The resurgence in Chinese steel output may continue for at least another month given ongoing strength in iron ore imports, with vessel data suggesting April was at least as strong as the previous month.

A total of 83.19 million tonnes of the steel-making ingredient was discharged at Chinese ports during April, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Thomson Reuters Commodity Research and Forecasts.

This was up from the 81.76 million tonnes offloaded in March, suggesting that China’s iron ore import volumes will show an increase when preliminary customs data is released within the coming days.

The ship-tracking data doesn’t exactly align with customs data, usually coming in slightly below the official figures, but the margin of error over the first quarter of 2016 was about 2.7 percent.

If this pattern is repeated in April, it implies that official imports may be higher, or at least as strong as the 85.77 million tonnes reported by customs in March.

This would continue the trend of rising imports of the steel-making ingredient, which grew 6.5 percent to 241.6 million tonnes in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2015.

The ship-tracking data showed that Australia once again snared the lion’s share of China’s imports, with 54.89 million tonnes being discharged in April.

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