June 18, 2020 / 3:42 AM / 21 days ago

Iron ore volatile as Brazil supply worries ease, but China demand hopes offer support

* Dalian, SGX iron ore futures erase early losses

* Brazil’s Vale allowed to reopen Itabira complex

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, June 18 (Reuters) - Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures seesawed on Thursday, falling after Brazil’s Vale SA was allowed to resume operations at a coronavirus-shuttered mining complex, but quickly erasing their losses as hopes of resilient demand in China prevailed.

The most-traded September iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 0.1% to 774 yuan ($109.26) a tonne by 0246 GMT, after dropping as much as 1.9% shortly after market open.

Iron ore’s most-active July contract on the Singapore Exchange gained 0.3% to $101.22 a tonne, also recovering from early losses.

The quick rebound followed upbeat remarks by China’s Vice Premier Liu He saying the country’s economic situation has gradually improved, and the state cabinet vowing to step up monetary easing and keep liquidity “reasonably ample”.

Hopes of further stimulus measures have encouraged Chinese steel mills to continue ramping up output, keeping demand for raw material iron ore in the world’s top metals consumer brisk in the second quarter.

However, the resurgence of COVID-19 infections in Beijing has tempered such optimism.

“There are fears that this outbreak may spread to neighbouring steelmaking centres,” said Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at ANZ, adding that the weakness in steel demand outside China is also a concern.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Iron ore miner Vale has received government permission to reopen mines in the Itabira complex, where 188 workers had tested positive for the new coronavirus, as its measures to mitigate the COVID-19 threat were deemed sufficient to restart works.

* Benchmark spot 62% iron ore settled at $104.50 a tonne on Wednesday, still hovering near a 10-month high, SteelHome consultancy showed. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.6%, hot-rolled coil gained 1.3% and stainless steel climbed 0.5%.

* Coking coal and coke both climbed 1.2%.

($1 = 7.0840 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by Uttaresh.V

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