Prices of fines with 62 percent iron content delivered to the port of Tianjin plunged 18 percent in the past six weeks after reaching $191.90 on Feb. 16, the highest since at least 2008, The Steel Index data show. The cash price hasn’t traded at less than $140 per ton since September 2010. Swaps for December are at $126.87 per ton, according to Singapore Exchange Ltd.
Iron ore’s biggest decline in 15 months may worsen as the economy slows in China, the largest importer, the European debt crisis persists and BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Rio Tinto Group increase production, analysts said.
Ore for immediate delivery may drop to $140 a metric ton by year-end, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. analyst Bonnie Liu in Shanghai. That’s down 5.2 percent from $147.70 yesterday, data from The Steel Index ltd. show. The price may fall to the mid to low $140s, said Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.
China, the world’s biggest steelmaker, grew at the slowest pace since 2009 in the third quarter on weaker export demand and monetary tightening as steel prices dropped to a 10-month low and port ore inventories held near a record. Cheaper ore — also sold through quarterly contracts — may limit profit growth at Vale SA (VALE3), Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, the largest producers.