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Mainstream prices of 63.5% Fe content Indian fines stood at $140-142 per tonne cfr China on Friday December 28, unchanged from yesterday but up $5 compared with a week earlier.
"The improving economic environment and positive sentiment are encouraging traders and steel mills to stock up iron ore," one steel mill source in Singapore said.
Most people had confidence in the iron ore market next month as spot supply would remain relatively tight and steel mills would have to replenish stocks for the week-long Chinese national holiday in February, he added.
But billet prices lost ground today, triggering some cautious sentiment, a Shanghai trader said.
In Tangshan city, steel billet traded at 3,230 yuan ($511) per tonne, down 50 yuan from yesterday.
One 160,000 tonne-cargo of 61.5% Fe Pilbara Blend fines with laycan January 15-25 was traded at $139 per tonne cfr on China Beijing International Mining Exchange on Friday, down $3 compared with a similar transaction on Global Ore on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Rio Tinto concluded a tender for 75,000 tonnes of 64.5% Fe Palabora Mining Company concentrate fines with laycan January 14-23 at $143.51 per tonne cfr.
"The rises seemed over-done or next month's demand is unleashed prematurely. The latest steel output data showed that steel production has dropped, so the demand in January could hardly meet people's expectation," a steel mill source in Beijing said.
"We have plenty raw material inventories now and we don't need to buy any iron ore in the following month," he said.
China's imported iron ore prices rose by $5 this week, supported by a bullish outlook.