Stockpiles came to 71.3 million metric tons as of Dec. 21, according to figures from researcher Antaike Information Development. That was the lowest level since Sept. 10, 2010. China is the world’s biggest importer of the ore.
“The decline in iron-ore port stocks should support an increase in Chinese iron-ore imports as restocking takes effect,” Oslo-based investment bank Arctic said today in an e- mailed report.
Ore with 62 percent iron content imported to the port of Tianjin traded at $144.90 a dry ton as of Dec. 31, up 25 percent for the month, according to a gauge from The Steel Index Ltd. Prices rose 7 percent since Dec. 21, Arctic said.
“Although we find the recent surge in iron-ore prices as temporary, we think it could have a positive effect on dry-bulk stocks near-term,” the bank said, citing expectations for “a spillover into the shipping markets.”
Still, charter rates for ore-carrying ships will only move higher in 2013’s second quarter, even as rising steel demand boosts ore prices, held back by “a last wave” of deliveries of new vessels, the report showed.
The Baltic Dry Index (BDIY), a measure of costs to transport minerals and grains by sea, averaged the lowest since 1986 last year amid an oversupply of vessels and slowing global demand for commodities that supressed ship earnings. China imported almost two-thirds of the 1.1 billion tons of iron ore shipped by sea in 2012, according to Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker.
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