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Baosteel raises May-June steel prices again

   BEIJING, March 27 -- Baosteel Group, the country’s largest steelmaker, has raised prices for hot rolled steel delivered in May and June by a further 7 percent, after earlier hiking second-quarter prices for the products by about 13 percent.

  Baosteel raised hot rolled steel prices by an average 250 yuan (US$31.14) a ton Thursday. It also lifted prices for some hot rolled specialty steel products by 100 yuan a ton.

  Baosteel had raised some cold rolled specialty steel products prices two weeks ago, dealers said.

   After sharp declines in 2005, domestic steel prices have firmed this year as exports and inventory drawdowns reduced a domestic surplus. Baosteel’s quarterly price adjustments are a benchmark for the domestic steel industry.

  “Normally, we adjust prices every quarter, but if the market changes more than anticipated, we will also respond accordingly,” an official in Baosteel’s marketing department said.

   In another development, Baosteel, representing the country’s steelmakers, will launch a fourth round of iron ore talks with three major world mining companies this week, according to a Xinhua report.

   Baosteel has been in talks with Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group and Brazil’s Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, or CVRD, since late last year to set 2006 iron ore prices.

  The negotiations have been deadlocked ever since, as Baosteel holds a different point of view on iron ore’s price trend from the three companies.

   While Baosteel insists on a cut in 2006 iron ore prices, the three mining companies have been seeking a 20 percent increase.

  ( Shenzhen Daily)

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