Benchmark iron ore futures rose on Wednesday, hovering near seven-week highs, with traders clinging on to hopes for more stimulus from China as gloomy trade data added to worries about the nation’s faltering economic recovery.
Top steel producer China’s exports shrank much faster than expected in May and imports fell, albeit at a slower pace, data showed on Wednesday, as manufacturers grappled with weak external demand and sluggish domestic consumption.
The most-traded September iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended morning trading 0.6% higher at 774 yuan ($108.75) a metric ton.
On the Singapore Exchange, the steelmaking ingredient’s benchmark July contract was up 1.3% at $107.80 a metric ton, as of 0436 GMT, near a seven-week high of $108.40 hit in the previous session.
Speculations since late May about China rolling out additional measures to reinvigorate its struggling property sector and shore up domestic demand have lifted benchmark iron ore prices by about 10% this month.
Among the latest headlines was China Securities Journal’s report on Tuesday saying China will likely further cut banks’ reserve ratio and interest rates in the second half of this year to support the economy, citing policy advisors and economists.
“The market tends to lean on hopes for a stimulus when macro indicators from China disappoint,” Citi analysts said in a note.
Such hopes, however, “may be misplaced in the absence of effective measures to rejuvenate the economy.”
“With the recent disappointing macro indicators, a key question remains as to whether Beijing has felt enough pain and is prepared to move away from a spontaneous recovery to a stimulus-driven recovery,” Citi analysts added.
Rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SRBcv1 slipped 0.4%, hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 dipped 1.1%, while wire rod SWRcv1 edged up 0.1% and stainless steel SHSScv1 added 0.4%.
Coking coal DJMcv1 and coke DCJcv1 on the Dalian exchange climbed 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively.