Iron ore price set for weekly gain on prospects of improving China demand

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Iron ore futures were mixed on Friday, but set for a weekly gain on mounting anticipation of a pick up in demand in top consumer China amid signs of improving steel consumption.

The most-traded May iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) ended daytime trade 1.50% higher at 844 yuan ($116.79) a metric ton, for a week-on-week rise of 6.1%.

Average daily hot metal output inched up 0.3% from last week to 2.21 million tons as of March 22, a survey of Chinese steelmakers showed, reversing a four-week downtrend, while profitability climbed to 22.94% from 21.21%, according to data from consultancy Mysteel.

“More mills under equipment maintenance may resume production in April,” analysts at First Futures said in a note.

However, benchmark April iron ore on the Singapore Exchange fell 1.07% to $108.6 a ton as of 0722 GMT, partly pressured by a stronger US dollar, recording a week-on-week increase of 8.7% so far.

“The iron ore market should be relatively balanced and keep prices from falling much below current levels amid low supply growth and demand from other sectors offseting a fall in the residential real estate sector,” analysts at ANZ said in a note.

Other steelmaking ingredients on the DCE gained ground, with coking coal and coke up 2.37% and 0.6%, respectively.

Steel benchmarks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were largely rangebound. Rebar ticked up 0.7% and hot-rolled coil added 0.53%, while wire rod was little changed and stainless steel lost 0.18%.

“Despite some positive signs, the steel market is still facing certain downside risk as the current steel consumption is still weaker than the same period in the past years and steel stocks remained high,” analysts at Huatai Futures said in a note.

($1 = 7.2267 Chinese yuan)

(By Amy Lv and Zsastee Ia Villanueva; Editing by Varun H K and Shounak Dasgupta)

Column: Iron ore faces China fundamentals and sentiment hurdles


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