Iron ore drifts higher as soft China data triggers stimulus hopes

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Iron ore futures prices drifted higher on Thursday as the latest soft data from top consumer China triggered renewed hopes of more stimulus in the second quarter to underpin its economy.

The most-traded September iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) ended daytime trade 1.29% higher at 826 yuan ($114.14) a metric ton.

The benchmark May iron ore on the Singapore Exchange was up 1.12% at $107.9 a ton, as of 0702 GMT.

China’s consumer price index (CPI) grew 0.1% in March from a year earlier, but fell 1.0% month-on-month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

The producer price index (PPI) fell 2.8% in March from a year earlier, widening a 2.7% slide from the previous month.

Both datasets maintained pressure on policymakers to launch more stimulus as demand remained weak.

Additionally, China’s economy likely grew 4.6% in the first quarter from a year earlier – the slowest in a year despite tentative signs of steadying – a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

Supporting prices of the key steelmaking ingredient are the persistent expectations of improved consumption amid rising hot metal output and lingering cost competitiveness against steel scrap”, analysts at Hongyuan Futures said in a note.

Some steelmakers have accelerated the pace of their production ramp-upamid improving downstream demand and steel margins, according to analysts at Citic Futures.

Other steelmaking ingredients on the DCE gained ground, with coking coal DJMcv1 and coke DCJcv1 up 2.92% and 3%, respectively.

Steel benchmarks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ticked higher.

Rebar SRBcv1 added 0.75%, wire rod SWRcv1 advanced 0.88%,stainless steel SHSScv1 rose 0.33% and hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 edged up 0.29%.

“The recent price gain in the market is more related to macroeconomic factors and more of a rebound driven by sentiment,” said Cheng Peng, a Beijing-based analyst at Sinosteel Futures, adding that the strength of downstream demand recovery will eventually decide how long the rebound will last.

Source: Reuters