LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 28 (Reuters) – China’s imports of iron ore appear headed for their strongest month this year in June, but the risks of a slowdown in the second half of 2018 are mounting.
Seaborne imports in June of the steel-making ingredient were 88.9 million tonnes by the 27th of the month, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts.
With three days of unloading left, it’s likely that June imports will exceed the 91.1 million tonnes captured by the shipping data in May, and possibly exceed the official customs number of 94.1 million reported for last month.
The vessel-tracking and customs data don’t align exactly on a month-by-month basis because of small differences in when cargoes are assessed as having been unloaded. However, over the longer term the two measures track each other closely.
The key point is that China’s imports of iron ore have remained relatively strong, even as rhetoric and actions in the trade dispute with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have escalated.
While the trajectory of the trade dispute is uncertain, it’s not the only issue hanging over the resilience of China’s steel sector, which accounts for about half of global production.