Dalian iron ore extends fall on demand concerns; upbeat China data caps losses

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Dalian iron ore futures prices dipped further on Monday amid lingering concerns about demand in top consumer China, although some upbeat data renewed hopes for a pick-up in steel demand and capped the losses.

The most-traded May iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) DCIOcv1 ended morning trade 0.44% lower at 792 yuan ($110.04) a metric ton, following an 11% on-week drop last week.

Tepid near-term ore demand remained a headwind to both sentiment and ore prices, said analysts.

Average daily hot metal output among Chinese steelmakers surveyed fell for a fourth straight week in the week to March 15, down by 0.6% on-week to 2.21 million tons, data from consultancy Mysteel showed.

Investment in the property sector, the largest steel consumer in China, slid 9.0% year-on-year in January-February, compared with a 24.0% fall in December, official data showed, although it’s still far from levels of reaching stability.

This boosted sentiment to some extent especially after data showed that new bank lending in China fell more than expected in February from a record high the previous month and China’s policy bank left a key policy rate unchanged while withdrawing cash from a medium-term policy loan operation on Friday.

However, the benchmark April iron ore SZZFJ4 on the Singapore Exchange was 1.84% higher at $101.75 a ton, as of 0320 GMT.

Other steelmaking ingredients on the DCE were mixed, with coking coal DJMcv1 little changed, while coke DCJcv1 fell 0.95%.

Steel benchmarks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange moved sideways. Rebar SRBcv1 ticked down 0.14%, hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 was little changed, wire rod SWRcv1 declined 0.5% and stainless steel SHSScv1 climbed 1.43%.

“Property sales and prices in China are not showing signs of revival, leaving downbeat prospects for steel demand,” analysts at ANZ bank said in a note.

China’s crude steel output climbed 1.6% in the first two months of 2024 from a year earlier, confounding market expectations that production would decline in the low-demand period when many steelmakers carried out maintenance work.

Source: Reuters