Steel reinforcement-bar futures advanced to the highest close in six months as an unexpectedly strong expansion of exports fueled expectations that industrial activity will increase in China, the biggest user and producer.
Rebar for delivery in May rose 0.6 percent to end at 4,020 yuan ($646) a metric ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the highest price at close for the most-active contract since July 9.
China’s exports rose 14.1 percent in December from a year earlier while imports increased 6 percent, producing a trade surplus of $31.6 billion, the customs administration said today. The pickup in overseas shipments compares with the 5 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 40 economists.
“China’s export sector is improving,” Dang Man, an analyst at Maike Futures Co., said in a report today. “Steel prices’ downside is limited because the market now expects demand from the downstream industries to pick up.”
Prices surged 14 percent in December, the most since July 2009, as the country’s economy headed for a rebound in the final three months of the year after a seven-quarter slowdown after the government increased infrastructure spending and accelerated investment-project approvals.
The average spot price for rebar fell 0.3 percent for the first time in nine sessions to 3,764 yuan a ton today, according to data from Beijing Antaike Information Development Co.
Spot iron ore at Tianjin port was $158.50 a dry ton yesterday, unchanged from Jan. 8 when it reached the highest level since Oct. 13, 2011, according to The Steel Index Ltd.