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Singapore iron ore snaps 3-day rally, Dalian gains on China demand hopes

* Dalian iron ore rises 2.8%, SGX iron ore down 0.9%

* Iron ore’s spot price hits highest in over 13 months

* Three steel firms eyed as Shanghai factory warehouses

MANILA, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Iron ore futures were mixed in early trade on Wednesday, with the Singapore benchmark snapping a three-day rally, while Dalian prices extended gains on optimism over steel demand prospects in China.

Iron ore’s September contract on the Singapore Exchange edged down 0.9% to $121.57 a tonne.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded iron ore for January 2021 delivery rose as much as 2.8% to 873 yuan ($126.24) a tonne.

Mills in China, the world’s top metals producer and consumer, continued to ramp up crude steel output, churning out a record volume in July as demand booms particularly in the construction sector.

Their appetite for the steelmaking ingredient has helped boost spot prices, with the benchmark 62% material at $123 a tonne on Tuesday, the highest since July last year, based on data tracked by SteelHome consultancy. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

“With steel margins in (China) remaining healthy, iron ore demand from mills in the country is likely to remain strong,” commodity strategists at ING wrote in a note.

But a pullback in prices looks overdue, some analysts said.

“Uncertainties over Brazilian supply in recent months have also been supportive of the market, but as these uncertainties subside, we would expect prices to ease,” ING strategists said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Vessels carrying 14.81 million tonnes of iron ore arrived at major Chinese ports last week, based on estimates by data provider SMM, up 2.16 million tonnes from the prior week.

* Iron ore cargoes that left Australia and Brazil in the same week also increased, SMM reported.

* Three steel companies comprise the Shanghai Futures Exchange’s first batch of designated factory warehouses for steel rebar futures delivery.

* Shanghai rebar was down 0.4% by 0210 GMT, while hot-rolled coil was virtually flat. Stainless steel slipped 0.3%.

* Dalian coking coal dropped 2.7% while coke was also almost unchanged.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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