Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures rose on Tuesday after China said it has seen the peak of COVID-19 infections in many regions, adding to the optimism over the drastic easing of pandemic restrictions in the world’s biggest steel producer.
Fears of regulatory intervention to control prices, however, capped gains for the steelmaking ingredient.
Iron ore’s most-traded May contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trade 1.2% higher at 839.50 yuan ($123.83) a tonne, near the session high of 844 yuan.
On the Singapore Exchange, the steelmaking ingredient’s benchmark February contract was up 2.5% at $119.95 a tonne, as of 0818 GMT. It earlier hit $120.55, the highest since early-June.
A Health Times compilation of reports from local government officials and health experts across China suggested the COVID-19 wave may be past its peak in many regions.
But while the overall mood was positive, traders remained cautious after China’s state planner pledged to ramp up efforts to regulate prices and crack down on “malicious” market speculation.
The National Development and Reform Commission issued the warning on Friday after it noticed a recent sharp rise in iron ore prices.
“We still need to pay attention to whether there are substantial regulatory actions in the later stage,” Sinosteel Futures analysts said in a note.
Other Dalian steelmaking inputs were subdued, with coking coal down 0.2%, while coke DCJcv1 edged 0.5% higher.
Steel benchmarks were mostly firmer. Rebar and wire rod on the Shanghai Futures Exchange both climbed 0.6%, and stainless steel was up 0.8%. Hot-rolled coil was flat.
Mysteel consultancy said it expects the price trend of major steel products in China to stay stable ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays later this month.
Steel demand is seasonally weak in China, while steel production is not expected to rise significantly in January, especially when production profits are thin, it said.