Rio Tinto PLC on Tuesday reported a lift in first-quarter iron-ore shipments, despite slightly weaker output year-on-year, as it sold from stockpiles. Production of other commodities, including bauxite and copper, was mostly lower, too. Here's some remarks from its quarterly report:

 

On steel:

"Steel prices in China finished the quarter at decade highs as construction activity and steel demand in the first quarter exceeded both 2020 and 2019. Strong steel demand and margins, at their highest since 2018, have lifted demand for higher quality (i.e. Pilbara Blend fines) and direct charge (i.e. Pilbara Blend lump) iron-ore products. China's renewed focus on reducing steelmaking emissions will likely restrain steel exports in 2021, supporting margins globally."

 

On aluminum:

"The aluminum price has rallied following a recovery in global demand and investor inflows. Logistical constraints combined with some inventories being tightly held has resulted in tighter physical markets."

 

On copper:

"Copper prices in the first quarter are up over 50% versus the same time last year, having reached a nine-year high in the quarter. The rally came on the back of strong demand in China, recovering demand elsewhere and ongoing disruptions to mine and scrap supply, all amplified by strong investor interest."

 

On China:

"China's industrial economy continues with strong momentum. Last year's stimulus programmes gave rise to a sustainable recovery in property and infrastructure construction. Policy focus is now shifting from supply (investment) to demand (consumption)--growth is therefore expected to pivot towards consumption of goods and services."

 

On the U.S.:

"Growth in the United States has improved due to the rapid progress of vaccinations and government policy support. Stimulus packages combined with a re-emerging consumer are expected to support strong growth in the near term. The prospect of an infrastructure bill enhances the outlook further but may bring inflationary pressures."

 

On Europe:

"Europe's economic recovery remains subdued due to lock-downs and a slower roll-out of vaccination programs. However, growth is expected to improve progressively with the roll out of the Recovery Fund (EUR750 billion over five years) which should support investment in infrastructure, transport, energy and construction."

 

Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 19, 2021 19:23 ET (23:23 GMT)

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