April 10 (Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s biggest buyer of iron ore, reduced imports by 3.2 percent in March from the previous month as heavy rains and flooding in Brazil caused supply disruptions.
Imports were 62.87 million metric tons in March, General Customs said today on its website. That compares with 64.98 million tons in February and 59.48 million tons in March last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Brazil’s first-quarter iron ore exports plunged 27 percent from the previous three months to the lowest level since June 2009 as rains in January delayed production, trade ministry data show. Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron ore producer, sells about 45 percent of its production to China, and shipments take 45 days to reach, according to the company.
“Weather is the main reason that caused imports to fall,” said Chen Zhenxing, a Shanghai-based analyst with researcher Mysteel.com. “We expect shipments to increase in the coming months because of seasonal demand, and the start of India’s fiscal year may trigger trading activities.”
The spot price for 62 percent-iron ore arriving at China’s Tianjin Port, an industry benchmark, reached $147.6 a ton as of April 5, according to the Steel Index. Prices have gained 6.7 percent this year.
Steel consumption in China, the world’s biggest producer of the alloy, may rise in the second half as the government eases liquidity and policy restrictions, Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. General Manager Ma Guoqiang said on April 6.
China’s growth outweighs inflation as the main concern for policymakers, and the government may reduce the reserve ratio for banks by 100 basis points this quarter, HSBC Holdings Plc said yesterday in an e-mailed note.
China’s iron ore imports gained 6 percent to 190 million tons in the first three months of this year from a year earlier, General Customs said today.
Steel-product exports by China were 5.03 million tons in March, according to General Customs. For the first quarter, the exports climbed 16 percent to 12.15 million tons, it said.
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