China steel exports set to shrink for the year since 2009

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 December, 2016, 3:49am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 December, 2016, 3:49am

China’s steel exports are poised to shrink for the first year since 2009, defying earlier forecasts, as mills in the world’s biggest producer sell more at home amid a surge in prices.

Outbound shipments fell 1 per cent to 100.7 million tonnes in the first 11 months, customs data showed Thursday. That means there’s little chance of exports catching last year’s record 112.4 million tonnes in the full 12 months. Sales in November slumped 15 per cent to 8.1 million tonnes from a year earlier.

Shipments from China are sliding as mills divert sales to the more lucrative domestic market, where stimulus measures have fueled demand.

Steel reinforcement bar surged 15 per cent in November in Shanghai, after a similar jump in October. Prices are up 87 per cent this year as the government increases spending on infrastructure and boosts credit. That’s benefiting the “old economy,” dominated by industries including steel and manufacturing.

With margins climbing, mills are buying more iron ore to turn into steel. Imports rebounded to 92 million tonnes in November, the third-highest on record. Total purchases rose 9.2 per cent to 935 million tonnes from a year ago.