Iron ore is rallying the most in about two years as analysts predict that China, the biggest buyer, will import a record amount in 2013 as its accelerating economic growth spurs demand for steel.
Trade to China will climb 6.9 percent to 778 million metric tons in 2013, or 65 percent of all shipments, according to the median of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Seaborne demand will exceed supply for at least a 10th year, Morgan Stanley data show. Prices will climb as much as 26 percent to $170 a ton by June, according to Justin Smirk of Westpac Banking Corp., who correctly predicted this year’s slump and was the most accurate industrial-metals forecaster tracked by Bloomberg.
Prices tumbled to a three-year low in September as China slowed for seven consecutive quarters, before rallying 56 percent since then on mounting confidence the nation’s growth will accelerate for at least the next six months. The rebound will boost earnings for suppliers and Vale SA, the biggest exporter, is expected to report a 19 percent increase in profit next year, analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.
“We’re confident to stay bullish for now,” said Smirk, the economist at Westpac in Sydney who beat as many as 25 others in predicting metals prices for two consecutive quarters on a rolling two-year basis. “We’re seeing the recovery come through in China. They’ve made a switch to their policy adjustments from being contractionary to be more stimulatory.”
Ore at China’s Tianjin port, a global benchmark, was last at $135.40, for an annual drop of 2.2 percent and a fourth- quarter average of $119.56. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 raw materials gained 0.3 percent and the MSCI All-Country World Index of equities rose 13 percent. Treasuries returned 2 percent, a Bank of America Corp. index shows.
The Tianjin price will average $119 in the first quarter and $122 in the following three months, the medians of 14 analysts’ estimates shows. Investors can trade swaps handled by brokers including SSY Futures Ltd., London Dry Bulk Ltd., GFI Group Inc., Clarkson Plc and Freight Investor Services Ltd. The derivatives market may total as much as 150 million tons this year, from 53 million tons in 2011, The Steel Index Ltd., which publishes the Tianjin price, said last month.
Seaborne trade will climb 6 percent to 1.18 billion tons next year, the same pace as in 2012, says London-based Clarkson, the world’s biggest shipbroker. Morgan Stanley estimates that seaborne demand will exceed supply by 28 million tons next year, extending a run of deficits going back to at least 2004. Global steel output expanded about 50 percent since then, according to MEPS (International) Ltd., an industry consultant.