September 12, 2019 / 3:11 AM / a month ago

China iron ore futures hit 5-week high on restocking demand prospects

* Dalian iron ore set to post 2nd straight weekly rise

* China markets shut on Friday for Mid-Autumn Festival

* Spot 62% iron ore steady at its highest since Aug. 9

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Benchmark Chinese iron ore futures rose in early trade on Thursday to their highest in five weeks, extending gains in anticipation of some restocking demand for the steelmaking raw material ahead of holidays in China.

Declining iron ore shipments into China and signs of easing trade frictions between Washington and Beijing added fuel to the rally.

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange , for January 2020 delivery, climbed as much as 2.1% to 669 yuan ($94.22) a tonne, its highest since Aug. 8, and was on track for its second consecutive gain on a weekly basis.

Financial markets in China are closed on Friday for the nation’s Mid-Autumn Festival.

Amid declining iron ore seaborne arrivals, purchases of the material may pick up due to some restocking demand of steel mills ahead of the country’s National Day celebrations in early October, said Richard Lu, senior analyst at metals consultancy CRU in Beijing.

He also said sentiment was buoyed by the latest news regarding the U.S.-China trade dispute, with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcoming China’s decision to exempt some U.S. anti-cancer drugs and other goods from its tariffs.

Trump at the same time announced a short delay to scheduled tariff hikes on billions worth of Chinese goods “as a gesture of good will.”

“It will definitely strengthen market confidence and reduce the worries,” Lu said.

The bruising trade war has raised concerns about future demand for steel not only in China, the world’s top producer and consumer of the construction and manufacturing material. China is also among the biggest exporters of steel products.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Benchmark spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 was steady on Wednesday at $93 a tonne, the highest since Aug. 9 this year, according to data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.

* The most-active construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.5% at 3,493 yuan a tonne, as of 0249 GMT.

* Hot-rolled coil, the steel used in cars and home appliances, edged down 0.1% to 3,514 yuan a tonne.

* China’s auto sales could experience negative to low growth over the next three years, an official with the country’s top industry association said, after sales fell for a 14th consecutive month in August.

* Other steelmaking raw materials were higher, with coking coal up 0.6% to 1,356 yuan a tonne and coke up 1.0% at 1,983 yuan.

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($1 = 7.1003 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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