July 20, 2020 / 3:27 AM / 20 days ago

Iron ore futures under pressure as China port stockpiles rise further

* Dalian iron ore on track for third session of decline

* SGX iron ore extends losses into fourth session

* China iron ore port stocks rise for fourth straight week

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, July 20 (Reuters) - Iron ore futures slipped on Monday on rising port inventory of the steelmaking ingredient in China, though optimism over prospects of strong domestic steel demand kept losses in check.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded September iron ore contract fell as much as 1% to 811 yuan ($115.87) a tonne and was on track for a third consecutive session of losses.

Iron ore’s August contract on the Singapore Exchange slumped 1.5% to $105.48 a tonne, extending losses into a fourth session.

China’s imported iron ore inventory stocked at ports rose for a fourth straight week to 112 million tonnes, as of July 17, the highest since mid-May SH-TOT-IRONINV, data from SteelHome consultancy showed.

Rising port stockpiles and signs that iron ore demand from steel mills were levelling off also kept iron ore’s spot prices under pressure.

Benchmark 62% fines stood at $111 a tonne on Friday SH-CCN-IRNOR62, SteelHome data showed, retreating from a near one-year high hit on July 15.

Dalian iron ore, however, remains on track for a fifth monthly gain in a row, supported by strong steel prices and China’s stimulus programme to prop up its economy.

“We believe the gains in futures prices are boosted by positive sentiment towards steel demand in H2 2020, as well as the liquidity injections into the overall market,” said Zhilu Wang, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

“But fundamentally iron ore prices will trend weaker due to weaker blast furnace operations in summertime, recovery of seaborne iron ore supply from Brazil and ongoing strong shipments from Australia.”

Trading in steel futures was listless, with both construction steel rebar and hot-rolled coil on the Shanghai Futures Exchange virtually flat, as of 0248 GMT, while stainless steel slipped 0.6%.

Coking coal was also steady, but coke rose 1.4%. ($1 = 6.9993 yuan) (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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