The iron ore rally just hit a brick wall

Steel futures sink as the European Union imposes new tariffs on some Chinese steel products

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Spot iron ore prices fell 2.5% overnight to US$77.77 a tonne, but there could be much bigger falls ahead if futures pricing is anything to go by.

Rebar futures have reportedly sunk 5.3% to 2,879 yuan following news that the European Union (EU) implemented new provisional anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese steel and iron products yesterday to protect European steelmakers hurt by global steel oversupply.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says, “the duties range between 43.5% and 81.1% and apply to seamless pipes and tubes of iron and steel, which are used in power plants, in construction as well as the oil-and-gas industry.

Some European manufacturers have complained that their Chinese competitors are exporting some steel products to Europe at unfairly low prices. The European Commission says its investigations reveal that Chinese products were being sold in Europe at heavily dumped prices.

The EU imposed anti-dumping tariffs on some Chinese steel imports in July, including rebar – steel products used to reinforce concrete. China has doubled steel exports to the EU over the past two years, while the region’s demand has fallen well below levels seen in 2008 during the GFC.

Bluescope Steel Limited (ASX: BSL) and Arrium Limited have also complained in the past about cheap Chinese steel products “dumped” at low prices in Australia.

Donald Trump, president-elect of the United States, has also threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports to protect domestic manufacturers. Should the US follow through, China’s steel industry could be in trouble, but that would also mean much lower steel demand and production, and much lower iron ore prices.

Atlas Iron Limited (ASX: AGO), BC Iron Limited (ASX: BCI), Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX: MGX), Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) and a host of iron ore juniors and explorers have seen their share prices surge in recent times. Atlas’ share price had doubled in a week as we reported yesterday.

But the miners could now see their share prices tumble, starting tomorrow morning if the iron ore price sinks.

Look out below.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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