SINGAPORE, May 30 (Reuters) - Miner BHP Billiton sold two cargoes of iron ore via the GlobalOre trading platform that debuted on Wednesday, traders said, heralding the start of competition with top iron ore importer China’s efforts to set an industry price benchmark.
GlobalOre, backed by major iron ore miners BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto and Chinese steelmakers including Baoshan Iron and Steel, began trading less than a month after China launched its first iron ore physical trading platform in a bid to boost its price-setting influence in its biggest commodity import by volume.
BHP, Vale, Rio Tinto and Baosteel, along with other miners and steel producers, are also members of the China Beijing International Mining Exchange (CBMX) which runs the Chinese platform that debuted on May 8.
Since kicking off trading from 0700 GMT, two cargoes were sold on GlobalOre, traders said.
BHP sold 90,000 tonnes of 61.5-percent grade MAC iron ore fines at $134.50 a tonne and 110,000 tonnes of 58-percent grade Yandi fines at $124.10, for delivery to China in June, traders said.
Those prices were higher against previous deals of $133 a tonne for MAC and $123.50 for Yandi, said a Shanghai-based trader.
“It’s a good start. We’ve got pretty punchy numbers on the iron ore physicals today,” said a trader in Singapore.
GlobalOre launched at a time spot when iron ore prices are picking up after a recent slide took as much as 10 percent off prices this month as Chinese mills skipped cargoes due to weak steel demand.
But gathering signs that Beijing may be unleashing stimulus measures to boost its economy, which should buoy demand for steel, had begun lifting steel prices and revived buying interest for iron ore.
Benchmark iron ore with 62 percent iron content .IO62-CNI=SI climbed 1.4 percent to $132.50 a tonne on Tuesday, the highest since May 17, according to the Steel Index.
There was similarly brisk trading on the CBMX platform, traders said. Vale sold 62-grade fines at $133.1 per tonne, said a Hong Kong trader.
“For some of the traders, they feel the market has already hit bottom so they are trying to take some positions,” said the Shanghai trader.
“But it will take time to see which platform will be the better price benchmark, whoever can secure the bigger volume, and we can only see that probably after at least three months or so.”
Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Clarence Fernandez