February 11, 2020 / 3:43 AM / in 13 days

China steel, iron ore futures rise over 5% as new coronavirus cases fall

* Dalian iron ore up as much as 5.5%

* Shanghai rebar climbs by up to 5.6%

* China’s daily virus death toll rises

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, Feb 11 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore and construction steel rebar futures jumped more than 5% in early trade on Tuesday after latest data showed a decline in the number of new infections from a coronavirus outbreak.

While the death toll from the epidemic in China has climbed above 1,000, the 2,097 new cases on Monday were down from 2,618 the previous day, bringing the total to more than 42,000.

However, this is not the first time new cases have fallen. China’s worst-hit province of Hubei reported 2,841 cases on Feb. 7 and 2,147 the next day.

“I think it is a bit of a relief rally as China reported less new confirmed cases nationwide, sparking hopes that the spread of the coronavirus outbreak has been contained,” said Helen Lau, metals and mining analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded iron ore contract, with May expiry, rose as much as 5.5% to 612 yuan ($87.71) a tonne.

On the Singapore Exchange, the front-month March contract jumped as much as 4.6% to $83.45 a tonne.

The benchmark Dalian contract has shed 12% from Feb. 3 up to Monday on concerns about demand prospects for iron ore in top steel producer China.

The epidemic could trim China’s full-year economic growth rate by as much as 1 percentage point in 2020, according to Zeng Gang, the vice chair of Chinese government think tank National Institute for Finance and Development.

In spot markets, however, demand for steel products and iron ore remained weak amid industry shutdowns in China, according to Lau.

Some steel mills in China are reportedly planning to reduce output due to lack of workers in the wake of travel curbs to contain the outbreak.

“Steel demand will pick up eventually but the question is when,” Lau said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Benchmark spot 62% iron-content ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 was steady at $83 a tonne on Monday.

* Iron ore exports by Brazil, one of China’s two biggest suppliers, fell in the first week of February compared with a year ago.

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 5.6%, while hot-rolled steel coil advanced 4.8%.

* Other ferrous raw materials also rose, with coking coal up 3.1%, while coke climbed 4.5%.

($1 = 6.9773 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Aditya Soni

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