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China stainless steel hits nine-month high as domestic demand recovers

Workers pour molten iron into a mould at a workshop in Hangzhou, Jiangsu

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese stainless steel futures surged on Monday, hitting their highest level in over nine months as domestic demand continued to pick up after coronavirus-related shutdowns.

The most-traded stainless steel futures contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, for June delivery, rose as much as 4.4% before ending the session 4.0% higher at 13,675 yuan ($1,931.55) a tonne, the highest since August 1.

"The purchasing demand at downstream sectors (for stainless steel) has been good," said Fu Zhiwen, an analyst with Huatai Futures.

"There had been worries of an export impact on consumption, but not obviously affected so far."

Apart from a revival in demand, prices also rose on concerns about the supply of raw materials such as nickel and chrome, according to a contact at a stainless steelmaker who requested not to be named.

The top two nickel miners in the Philippines have gradually resumed mining and shipping operations since May after coronavirus-led disruptions. But the trader said output was still lower compared with a year earlier.

Other steel futures on the Shanghai exchange were range-bound, with the October contract of construction rebar dipping 0.1% to 3,452 yuan a tonne while hot-rolled coil edged up 0.03% to 3,329 yuan for a sixth straight session of gains.

China's monthly vehicle sales rose for the first time in almost two years in April as more customers visited showrooms after the economy began to open up and authorities loosened restrictions.



FUNDAMENTALS

* Benchmark iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for September delivery, inched down 0.3% to 630 yuan a tonne.

* Spot prices of iron ore with 62% iron content for delivery to China rose to $89.3 per tonne on Friday. [SH-CCN-IRNOR62]

* Dalian coking coal fell 1.2% to 1,081 yuan per tonne and coke lost 1.5% to 1,726 yuan a tonne.

* More than 4.03 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 277,092 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

* China's Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd raised hot-rolled coil prices for June delivery by 50 yuan per tonne and kept cold-rolled products unchanged.

* Brazil's Vale SA is seeing a "very vigorous" economic rebound in China, the iron ore miner's principal export market, Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said during an online event hosted by newspaper Valor Economico on Friday.

* Local governments in China issued 286.8 billion yuan ($40.55 billion) worth of bonds in April, of which 120.2 billion yuan were in new bonds and 166.6 billion yuan were refinanced, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance on Saturday.

* China's central bank said it lowered interest rates on its standing lending facility (SLF) in April, catching up with similar reductions in other liquidity tools as part of Beijing's efforts to support the coronavirus-hit economy.





(Reporting by Min Zhang and Tom Daly; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Kirsten Donovan)