Rio Reports Record Iron Ore, Coal Output as China Demand Surges
Comment of the Day

October 15 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rio Reports Record Iron Ore, Coal Output as China Demand Surges

This article by Elisabeth Behrmann for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section
Iron ore production was 53.4 million metric tons in the three months to Sept. 30, compared with 52.6 million tons a year earlier, the London-based company said today in a statement. That compares with the 53.3 million ton median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Economic growth in China, Rio’s biggest customer, is showing signs of rebound after a two-quarter slowdown. Australia, the largest iron ore exporter, this month raised its price estimates on buying from steel mills in China, while the Asian nation’s copper imports rose to an 18-month high.

“The highlights for us are obviously the growth in iron ore shipments and production,” Peter Esho, chief market analyst at Invast Securities Co., said in an e-mail. “Copper is also the big standout.”

Rio, seeking to cut $5 billion in costs by the end of next year, rose 2.5 percent to A$63.20 in Sydney trading. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, gained 1 percent.

“In iron ore, we achieved record production and shipments in Western Australia,” Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh said in the statement. “We are also making further important gains in productivity across our operations and continue to drive costs out of the business.”

Eoin Treacy's view China’s Communist Party will meet next month for a major policy setting session which is being eagerly awaited by China watchers since it is likely to set the tone of the administration’s ambitions over the next five years. We can expect continued emphasis on improving human capital through supports for the consumer sector, healthcare, technology and social security. Infrastructure development and affordable housing provision are also likely to feature.

The net effect of these changes is that the tightening which has been such a factor for the economy over the last few years is probably at an end. The Shanghai A-Shares Index has been trending lower since late 2009 but lost downward momentum over the last year and has been consolidating above the 200-day MA since late August. A sustained move below the trend mean would be required to question potential for additional upside.

Rio Tinto has found support in the region of 2650p on a number of occasions since late 2011; most recently in June. A sustained move below 2925p would now be required to question potential for additional higher to lateral ranging.

More generally, the Australian economy should benefit from increased Chinese commodity demand. The S&P/ASX 200 Index broke out to new 5-year highs in September and continues to consolidate the advance. A sustained move below the psychological 5000 area would be required to question medium-term recovery potential.

Back to top