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Iron ore price up despite Chinese power curbs

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Iron ore prices gained for the third straight session on Monday, rising more than 5% in China, while steel rebar and hot-rolled coils increased amid production controls due to power cuts.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $119.31 a tonne, up 7.2% from Friday’s closing.

Credit: Fastmarkets MB

Benchmark iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for January delivery, rose as much as 5.3% to 715 yuan ($110.57) per tonne in morning trade. They closed up 3.5% to 703 yuan a tonne.

China’s massive industrial base has been wrestling with sporadic jumps in power prices and usage curbs since at least March, when provincial authorities in Inner Mongolia ordered some heavy industry, including an aluminum smelter, to curb use so that the province could meet its energy use target for the first quarter.

“Most bad news comes from China these days,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Group Holdings, wrote in a note.

“The Evergrande debt crisis, the Chinese energy crackdown on missed targets and the ban on cryptocurrencies have been shaking the markets, along with the Fed’s more hawkish policy stance last week.”

EXPLAINER-What is behind China’s power crunch?

Analysts with GF Futures, however, said the gains in steelmaking ingredient prices were a bounce-back from previous losses, but they are not sustainable, as demand at mills continued to ease.

Capacity utilisation rates of 247 blast furnaces at steel plants across China stood at 82.06% last week, down from 83.74% the week earlier, data from Mysteel consultancy showed.

“There is no relief on production cut pressure, as the government is asking more provinces around Beijing to cut their steel production to improve air quality ahead of the Winter Olympics next year,” ANZ senior commodity strategist Daniel Hynes said.

Construction used rebar rose 1.0% to 5,564 yuan ($861) a tonne. Hot-rolled coils, used in the manufacturing sector, inched 0.6% higher to 5,592 yuan ($866) per tonne at close.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)

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