Why were Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and BHP (ASX:BHP) shares in the green today?

It was a good day on the ASX for the two mining giants. We take a closer look.

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Key points

  • Both the Rio Tinto and BHP share prices enjoyed healthy gains today
  • Rising iron ore prices helped give the mining giants a boost
  • US listings for both companies also ascended overnight

The Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) and BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share prices rose today amid booming commodity prices.

At the close of trading, Rio Tinto’s shares were up 3.18% to $113.41, while the BHP share price climbed 3.11% to $48.01.

Let’s take a look at what caused these ASX mining shares to rise today.

What’s been happening at the mining giants?

Shares in the two miners are at their highest level in the past five months. Both shares are trading at their best price since mid-August.

Investors seem to be reacting to spiraling iron ore prices. The iron ore price increased by 3.20% from US$125 at market close on 18 January to US$129 on 19 January in the United States. Copper prices also increased slightly by 0.34% to US$4.4850 per lbs.

The performance of BHP and Rio Tinto on US markets overnight also may have sparked investor interest here in Australia.

On the New York Stock Exchange, Rio Tinto jumped 2.89% overnight while BHP ascended 3.05%.

Meanwhile, both BHP and Rio Tinto released quarterly updates yesterday. Rio saw a 5% decline in its Pilbara iron ore shipments to 84.1 million tonnes (Mt) in the three months ended 31 December. The company forecast iron ore shipments of 320Mt–335Mt and copper production of 500kt–575kt. The Rio Tinto share price gained 0.24% yesterday.

The BHP share price fell slightly after the company released its second-quarter update. Iron ore production increased 4% compared to the previous quarter to 66.1 Mt.

The company’s half-year production reached 129.1 Mt, while BHP copper production declined 3% compared to the previous quarter. The BHP share price fell 0.30% yesterday.

On another note, BHP revealed this week it is planning to trial using battery-powered trains to transport iron ore from its Pilbara mines to its Port Hedland export facility in Western Australia.

Share price snap shot

The BHP share price has gained 3.7% in the past year, while Rio Tinto has fallen 5.3%. In the past month, BHP shares have increased 16% while Rio Tinto shares have soared 15.7%.

In contrast, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has returned about 8.4% in the past year.

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The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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