* Dalian iron ore benchmark drops as much as 2.5%
* Singapore iron ore’s Dec contract at one-week low
* Australia Oct iron ore exports seen at 78 mln T
* Dalian coke futures extend rally into a fifth day
MANILA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Iron ore futures in China and Singapore fell on Thursday, with the Dalian benchmark contract dropping by more than 2%, as exports of the steelmaking ingredient by top producer Australia likely picked up last month.
The most-traded iron ore contract with January expiry on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange slumped 2.5% to 772.50 yuan ($116.15) a tonne, its weakest since Oct. 30.
Iron ore’s front-month December contract on the Singapore Exchange slid 1.2% to $111.71 a tonne.
Australia’s iron ore exports in October were projected to have increased to 78 million tonnes in October, from the prior month’s 74 million tonnes, based on Westpac’s estimate.
China, the world’s top steel producer, buys about two-thirds of Australia’s monthly iron ore exports.
Australia’s export volumes in the third quarter were generally lower than might have been expected due to maintenance activity by major iron ore miners, said Robert Rennie, head of Westpac’s financial market strategy.
“The good news is that the impact of maintenance appears to be waning,” he said, citing an 18% year-on-year rise in export volumes at Port Dampier and Cape Lambert port in October.
Iron ore, Australia’s top export, has been spared so far from the simmering tensions between Beijing and Canberra.
Coupled with increased iron ore shipments from Brazil, the steady supply from Australia has pushed port stockpiles in China to 128.95 million tonnes last week, the highest since mid-February, SteelHome consultancy data showed. SH-TOT-IRONINV
Spot iron ore prices, however, have been generally stable this week, trading at $118.50 a tonne on Wednesday, based on SteelHome data. SH-CCN-IRNOR62
Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 0.2%, while hot-rolled coil climbed 0.5%. Stainless steel slipped 0.8%.
Dalian coking coal dropped 0.8%, but coke advanced for a fifth straight session by as much as 1.6%.
Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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