Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures weakened on Monday after China’s state planner said last week it had sought expert advice on policy measures to deal with the recent rapid rise in prices of the raw material.
The most-traded May iron ore futures contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) ended daytime trading 2.13% lower at 897 yuan ($129.70) a tonne.
Meanwhile, on the Singapore Exchange, the benchmark April iron ore contract SZZFJ3 traded down 1.23% at $123.85 a tonne as of 0726 GMT.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said late on Friday that its price monitoring unit had met with experts who said rising prices were driven by speculation and suggested authorities should strengthen market supervision.
They also advised “cracking down” on the spread of misleading pricing information, hoarding and speculation, according to a post on the NDRC’s official WeChat account.
“Some market participants with long positions liquidated their positions today to lock profits because of concerns that prices may face continued downward pressure following the news from NDRC”, said Huang Jing, an iron ore trader from Shanghai Yongjiu, a domestic trading agency.
Tangshan, China’s top steelmaking hub, said on Saturday that it would start another round of level 2 emergency response from March 4 to handle the forecast heavy air pollution, marking the second time in a fortnight it has implemented such measures.
Some local steel producers have been impacted by the move, consultancy Mysteel said in a report, without giving details. Emergency actions typically require steel plants to curb production.
Other steelmaking ingredients – coking coal and coke – as well as downstream steel products, also registered losses. Coking coal slid 1.12% and coke fell 0.9%.
Rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange lost 0.92% to 4,210 yuan a tonne, hot-rolled coil declined 0.53%, wire rod fell 1.29%. Stainless steel inched up 0.52%.
China’s decision to set a modest 5% economic growth target for 2023, revealed at Sunday’s parliament opening, may also have knocked some of the optimism in commodity markets.
The lower-than-expected target means that macroeconomic stimulus policies this year may not be as strong as previously expected, analysts at Citic Futures said in a note.
($1 = 6.9158 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(By Amy Lv and Dominique Patton; Editing by Varun H K and Savio D’Souza)