Chinese steel futures retreated on Friday after a five-day rally as ample inventories of the building material weighed, with little impact on market sentiment from U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to impose hefty tariffs on imported steel. Trump said the duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum would be formally announced next week, but worries that the plan could fuel a global trade war weighed on Asian equities.
China is the world’s biggest steel producer, but accounts for only about 1-2 percent of steel imports by the United States, the world’s top buyer. “Chinese direct steel exports to the U.S. market are very limited,” said Richard Lu, analyst at CRU consultancy. The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed down 0.3 percent at 4,024 yuan ($634) a tonne, after touching a nearly three-year peak of 4,062 yuan on Thursday.
“The high steel inventory is weighing on prices at the moment,” said Lu.
Lu said Chinese steel demand has yet to pick up after the week-long Lunar New Year break last month, with construction activity only expected to gradually resume from Friday.
Inventory of construction steel product rebar reached 7.13 million tonnes on Feb. 23, the most since March last year, data compiled by SteelHome consultancy showed.
Expectations that more Chinese cities could curb steel output after top steel-producing Tangshan announced it would extend production restrictions beyond the end of the heating season on March 15 had buoyed steel prices this week, with raw materials iron ore and coking coal also hitting multi-week highs. But steel’s pullback on Friday also weighed on iron ore and coking coal prices.
The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange fell 0.9 percent to 539 yuan a tonne and coking coal dropped 0.6 percent to 1,394 yuan. Coke dipped 0.5 percent to 2,242 yuan per tonne.
Iron ore for delivery to China’s Qingdao port <.IO62-CNO=MB> rose 1 percent to $79.39 a tonne on Thursday, its loftiest since Aug. 22, according to Metal Bulletin, tracking the strength in the futures market.