Iron ore hits 2-week low as China rally fizzles out

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Iron ore futures fell to a two-week low on Thursday as traders reassessed demand prospects in key consumer China, despite expectations for more policy stimulus to support the country’s economic rebound.

Iron ore and steel prices in China hit multi-month highs in January as markets rallied from early November on the back of Beijing’s stepped-up policy support for its ailing property sector and dismantling of strict COVID-19 curbs.

The steelmaking ingredient has risen more than 9% this year on the Singapore Exchange, while steel benchmarks in China, the world’s biggest producer of the construction and manufacturing material, has also posted monthly gains since November.

Steel prices are “running strongly under the support of cost and positive expectations,” Huatai Futures analysts said in a note.

But analysts said the demand-side support for iron ore needed to be verified.

China’s imports and exports are facing an “extremely severe” environment due to rising risks of a global recession and slowing external demand, a government official said on Thursday.

The most-traded May iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange DCIOcv1 ended daytime trade 3.3% lower at 841.50 yuan ($125.29) a tonne. It earlier hit 839 yuan, its weakest since Jan. 18.

SGX iron ore’s benchmark March contract SZZFH3 fell as much as 3.8% to $121.20 a tonne.

Other Dalian steelmaking inputs also dropped, with coking coal DJMcv1 slipping 0.4% and coke DCJcv1 down 2.2%.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, rebar SRBcv1 shed 2%, hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 lost 1.8%, wire rod SWRcv1 slipped 0.6%, while stainless steel SHSScv1 dipped 3.4%.

“We believe more stimulus and infrastructure spending could be unveiled at the National People’s Congress in March, which is likely to boost demand for commodities further,” said ING commodities strategist Ewa Manthey.

However, analysts said Chinese regulators, who have warned against excessive iron ore price speculation, may step in to manage any potential upward pressure on commodity inflation.

Source: Reuters

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