The iron ore price which has been defying expectations of a pullback for months gained on Wednesday with benchmark Northern China import prices rising to a five-week best of $78.25 a tonne. The last time the steelmaking raw material traded above $80 was April 2017. Coking coal was also higher at $233.10 a tonne. Premium Australian exports were at $154 a tonne this time last year.
Obituaries were being written for Anglo two years ago before the 100-year old company went on radical restructuring drive. Since then the world's fourth largest diversified miner has surged 500%
The bullishness spilled over to mining's heavyweights which outperformed broader gains on US equity markets.
Shares in world number one miner BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) gained 2.8% in New York while Anglo-Australian peer Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) added 1.8%. Both companies are worth more than $100 billion having doubled in value since the beginning of 2016 when the mining industry hit the bottom of the cycle.
Vale (NYSE: VALE.P), the world's top iron ore and nickel producer, was one of the best performers on the day with a 6% jump valuing the company at $73.1 billion. The Rio de Janeiro-based company is up 30% over the past year and is up a fourfold since the end of the downturn when iron ore reached $37 a tonne and nickel bottomed at $7,700 a tonne.
The vast majority of the global economy is still growing at a rate well above the trend of the last few years and that is helping to boost demand growth for commodities. Considering the majority of miners are no longer willing to bet big on expansion and development of greenfield sites, they now exhibit greater commonality with metal prices and even have potential to act in a high beta manner.
The LME Metals Index is composed of the six primary industrial metals and continues to trend higher in a reasonably consistent manner.
The FTSE 350 Mining Index has a similar pattern. The sector is currently trading on an historic P/E of 5.46 and yields 3.05%.