March 27, 2020 / 4:47 AM / 10 days ago

Chinese iron ore gains on supply worries, but set for weekly loss

* Dalian iron ore futures eye first weekly fall in four

* China’s benchmark iron ore contract up nearly 3% this year

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, March 27 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures ticked up on Friday, underpinned by expectations for supply disruptions in the wake of lockdowns across the world to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chinese benchmark contract, however, was on track for its first weekly loss in four as the widening economic fallout from the global health crisis darkened the demand outlook for the steelmaking raw material and steel products.

Iron ore’s most-traded May contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.6% at 664 yuan ($93.81) a tonne by the midday break, after being volatile in early trade.

The Singapore Exchange’s most-active May contract was little changed at $82.25 a tonne.

Supply concerns also supported spot prices. The benchmark 62% iron ore was steady at $87 a tonne on Thursday, rebounding from a six-week low of $84.50 hit on Monday, based on data from SteelHome consultancy. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

Despite worries about demand, Dalian iron ore has risen nearly 3% so far this year, as more iron ore-producing countries have enforced coronavirus-containment measures.

“Iron ore prices (in) short-term remain resilient on the back of rising steel production in China, declining port inventory and possible reduced exports of iron ore from South Africa and India,” said Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

Top iron ore exporters in Australia and Brazil were also affected by border restrictions, which could hamper shipments to China, the world’s biggest consumer of iron ore and which accounts for more than half of global steel output.

Lau also said it may take time for the global economy to recover despite the massive fiscal and monetary support rolled out across the world.

“The $5 trillion stimulus package announced by G20 countries will not immediately revive their respective economies,” she said. “China’s economic recovery from 2Q is certain but a V-shape rebound is less likely due to reduced external demand.”

FUNDAMENTALS

* Mainland China reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus case in three days and 54 new imported cases, as Beijing ordered airlines to sharply cut international flights fearing travellers could reignite the coronavirus outbreak.

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.4%, while hot-rolled coil gained 0.7% and stainless steel advanced 0.3%.

* Coking coal slipped 0.2%, while coke was nearly flat.

($1 = 7.0784 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Aditya Soni

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