Iron ore futures rise, China demand worries cap gains

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Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures rebounded on Thursday after three days of losses, but worries over demand for the steelmaking ingredient in top steel producer China kept benchmark prices near their two-week lows hit the day before.

The most-traded May iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange DCIOcv1 ended daytime trading 1% higher at 669.50 yuan ($105.11) a tonne. It touched 650.50 yuan in the previous session, its lowest since Dec. 15.

Iron ore’s most-active February contract on the Singapore Exchange SZZFG2 was up 1.6% at $119 a tonne by 0737 GMT.

Barring any big jump in prices on the last trading session of the year on Friday, Dalian iron ore was set for its first weekly loss since mid-November.

It was also on track for a full-year decline of more than 10%, dragged down by the collapse of Chinese demand due to steel production controls to curb carbon emissions, and rising inventory of imported material stocked at the country’s ports.

The spot price of China-bound iron ore from Australia, based on SteelHome consultancy data, was $120 a tonne on Wednesday, just about half of the record peak scaled in May. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

China’s strict steel output curbs are expected to remain in place until after the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

Fresh COVID-19 outbreaks in China, which has a zero-tolerance policy towards local cases, and worries over the country’s troubled property sector are also likely to keep investors cautious.

“The property sector downturn is a key watchpoint, given its impact on overall growth momentum and related supply chains,” analysts at ANZ said in a note.

Construction steel rebar SRBcv1 and hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 on the Shanghai Futures Exchange both shed 0.6%. But stainless steel SHSScv1 climbed 2.4%.

Dalian coking coal DJMcv1 advanced 1.3% and coke DCJcv1 added 0.3%.

Source: Reuters

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