July 31, 2020 / 4:23 AM / 14 days ago

China iron ore futures set for fifth monthly rise on strong factory activity, stimulus hopes

* Dalian iron ore heads for fourth straight weekly gain

* China’s factory activity accelerates recovery in July

* Brazil’s Vale eyes mine expansions, Samarco restart

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, July 31 (Reuters) - Dalian iron ore futures were set to gain for a fifth month, rising on Friday as China’s accelerating factory activity boosted sentiment already up on signals of more government support to keep economic recovery on track.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded iron ore contract rose 0.5% to 843 yuan ($120.71) a tonne in morning trade, advancing for a fourth straight session and on track for a fourth weekly gain in a row.

The commodity has defied expectations for weak steel demand in July, receding supply risks and rising Chinese port stockpiles, with the Dalian futures set to gain for a fifth straight month while spot prices remain above $100 a tonne for two months now.

Steel futures’ monthly winning streaks also remained unbroken, reflecting optimism about further stimulus measures to sustain China’s post-lockdown economic recovery that is driving steel mills to produce more.

“At present, steel mills are still profitable... and companies have no incentive to reduce production,” analysts at Sinosteel Futures Co Ltd wrote in a note. “The market’s demand expectation... has further strengthened.”

Factory activity in the world’s top metals consumer expanded at a faster rate in July, beating analyst expectations despite disruptions from floods and a resurgence in global coronavirus cases.

Some analysts, however, are sounding a cautionary note.

“We caution that the negative effects from the ongoing Yangtze River floods that may constrain some outdoor construction activity have not been fully felt,” those at Nomura said in a note.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange steadied, while hot-rolled coil gained 0.5% and stainless steel advanced 0.6%.

* Coking coal rose 0.5% and coke climbed 0.8%.

* Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA is looking at further expansion at its Northern System mining complex and expects to restart operations at its Samarco complex in December.

($1 = 6.9838 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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