Steelmakers Raise Prices on China’s Economic Growth Optimism

Chinese steelmakers including Hebei Iron & Steel Group (000709) and Jiangsu Shagang Group Co. joined their Japanese peers in raising prices after Premier Li Keqiang signaled China may support economic growth.

Shagang, the nation’s biggest non-state-owned mill, raised steel wire prices on July 21 by as much as 100 yuan ($16) a metric ton, according to its website. It was the Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province-based steelmaker’s second increase this month. Hebei Steel, China’s biggest producer, raised some steel sheet prices yesterday by as much as 100 yuan for August delivery after cutting them a month earlier, according to industry researchers Custeel.com and Mysteel.com.

China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of steel, will seek to keep economic growth, employment and inflation within limits, avoiding “wide fluctuations,” Li said July 16. He said at a recent meeting with economists 7 percent is the “bottom line” and the nation can’t allow growth to fall below that, the Beijing News reported today.

“The government is sending signals it will stabilize the economic growth in China, easing concerns for a further slowdown,” said Xu Xiangchun, Beijing-based chief analyst with Mysteel.com, “This helps revive purchasing power for steel amid speculation prices will rebound after a four-month decline.”

Futures Rebound

Steel futures in Shanghai have rebounded for seven straight weeks on expectations China will boost economic growth and as iron ore rallied. Shares of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. (5401) and Kobe Steel (5406) Ltd., Japan’s largest and third-largest mills, gained today after the Nikkei newspaper reported Nippon Steel and Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to a 10 percent price increase on steel sheet supplies.

Hebei Iron & Steel Co., the main listed unit of Hebei Iron & Steel Group, climbed 2.2 percent to 1.89 yuan as of 10:46 a.m. in Shenzhen. Nippon Steel shares rose as much as 4.7 percent to 313 yen in Tokyo, set for the highest level since Feb. 7, 2011. Kobe Steel gained as much as 4.6 percent to 159 yen and JFE Holdings Inc., Japan’s second-biggest mill, rose as much as 3.8 percent.

China’s gross domestic product rose 7.5 percent in the April-to-June period from a year earlier, putting at risk the official full-year target for the same pace.

Steel reinforcement bar prices in Shanghai have risen for seven straight weeks, gaining 7.8 percent from the week ended May 31. Rebar for January delivery was up 0.2 percent to 3,684 yuan a ton as of 10:15 a.m. local time today. Iron ore prices arriving China’s Tianjin port have gained 19 percent over the same period.

The steel futures had earlier declined 14 percent since Feb. 8 amid industry overcapacity, slowing demand and high inventories.

China accounted for 49 percent of global steel production in June, according to the World Steel Association. Japan, the second-largest producer, accounted for 7 percent, the data showed.

Three calls to Hebei Steel’s press office in Shijiazhuang city went unanswered.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Helen Yuan in Shanghai at hyuan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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