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Iron ore price falls on China demand worries

Steel works in China. Image by junrong

The iron ore price fell on Wednesday on persistent unease about debt-saddled Chinese property firms and an overall bearish demand outlook.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $124.17 a tonne, down 3.8% from Tuesday’s closing.

The most-traded January iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trading 5.9% lower at 731 yuan ($113.32) a tonne, after a five-session rally.

Chinese property developers face payment deadlines defaults before the end of the year, and with China Evergrande Group’s fate looking increasingly bleak, fears are mounting of a wider crisis in the sector that accounts for about a quarter of the domestic steel demand.

Chinese iron ore demand has already collapsed amid environment-related steel production controls, curbing imports which declined 3% in annual terms during January-September.

“In mid-to-late September, the number of blast furnace maintenance… showed an explosive increase,” Zhongzhou Futures analysts wrote in a note.

“Under the strict production restriction policy, it is doubtful whether the steel plants… can resume production on schedule in October.”

Steel mills in some 28 cities in northern China will have to cut production from November 15 to March 15 next year, in order to clear the smog-blanketed sky in time for the Olympic Winter Games that will take place in February in Beijing and neighboring Hebei province.

The Chinese volume of iron ore imports dropped to 95.6 million tonnes in September from 97.5 million tonnes in August. 

(With files from Reuters)

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