Iron ore price retreats on China demand rethink, price curbs worry

Steel worker (Stock Image)

Dalian iron ore futures dipped on Friday, deepening weekly losses as traders reassessed demand prospects in top steel producer China and exercised caution after market regulators repeatedly warned against excessive price speculation.

The steelmaking ingredient’s most-active May contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trade 0.4% lower at 853.50 yuan ($126.52) a tonne, after earlier hitting a fresh two-week low of 834 yuan. The contract has declined 1.2% so far in the week.

On the Singapore Exchange, benchmark March iron ore was headed for its first weekly fall this year, but up 0.8% at $125.10 a tonne from Thursday, as of 0751 GMT.

“Whether the peak season of terminal demand can support the current price still needs further observation,” Sinosteel Futures analysts said in a note.

Iron ore and steel prices in China hit multi-month highs in January as markets rallied from November, underpinned by stepped-up policy support for the country’s ailing property sector and the dismantling of strict covid-19 restrictions.

But the rally in iron ore prices has caught the attention of Chinese regulators, who are apparently on guard to curb any potential upward pressure on commodity inflation.

“Iron ore is facing pressure from price control, so pay attention to policy risks,” Sinosteel analysts said.

Supply-side risks also weighed on market sentiment.

Inventories of imported iron ore at China’s 45 major ports climbed to a four-month high of 137.3 million tonnes, based on the Jan. 20-27 survey by industry data provider Mysteel, up 5.2 million tonnes, or 4%, from the prior survey period, mainly due to a slump in discharge volumes and more ore arrivals.

Dalian coking coal edged up 0.3%, but coke shed 1.1%.

Steel benchmarks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange also fell, with rebar shedding 0.8%, hot-rolled coil slipping 0.4%, and wire rod dipping 1%. Stainless steel dropped 0.7%.

(By Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Raissa Kasolowsky)


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