Even though China keeps putting out cheery official numbers, its purchases of commodities are down, suggesting there is less to its stabilization than meets the eye. It’s early to say that this is conclusive, but there is a good bit of other anecdotal information and some firmer information raising questions about the true state of affairs in China.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, had its worst week since October as Chinese demand for shipments of coal and iron ore slowed.
The index tracking transportation costs on international trade routes today slid 135 points, or 4.6 percent, to 2,772 points, according to the Baltic Exchange. That took its weekly drop to 17 percent, the most since the end of October.
“The Chinese have backed off and it’s starting to show in the number of shipments this month,” Gavin Durrell, a Cape Town-based official at Island View Shipping SA, Africa’s biggest commodities shipping line, said by phone today. “Iron ore and coal seem to be slowing down.”
China’s record coal and iron ore imports in the first half helped the index to advance as much as fivefold this year, reversing some of the record 92 percent collapse in 2008. Demand rose after the country’s government announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package….
Rates are declining as Chinese steelmakers delay imports while they negotiate annual iron ore prices with producers such as Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA, Durrell said. “I don’t think they will come back until they agree,” he said.
The drop reflects a wider slide in demand for raw materials that will likely push prices for metals, commodities and energy lower, Eugen Weinberg, a senior commodity analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said