March 20, 2020 / 8:04 AM / in 16 days

UPDATE 1-China iron ore rises on hopes of stepped-up fiscal stimulus

* Dalian iron ore futures rise 0.5% in volatile week

* China to ramp up spending to revive economy - sources

* Iron ore miner Vale may continue Malaysia port ops

* China’s steel stocks at traders drop - Mysteel (Updates with closing prices)

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, March 20 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore futures edged higher on Friday on optimism that Beijing would ramp up spending on infrastructure projects to prop up the world’s second-largest economy that has been battered by the coronavirus epidemic.

An infrastructure-led stimulus package is expected to drive a recovery in steel demand in China, which accounts for more than half of the world’s output of the manufacturing and construction material, boosting demand for steelmaking ingredient iron ore.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded May iron ore contract closed 0.5% higher at 661.50 yuan ($93.63) a tonne, after rising as much as 4.7% earlier in the session. It was up 0.5% for the week.

“The market’s expectations for further fiscal expansion are rising again,” analysts at Huatai Futures Co Ltd said in a note.

China is set to unleash trillions of yuan of fiscal stimulus to revive its economy that is expected to shrink for the first time in four decades amid the pandemic, Reuters reported on Thursday citing four policy sources.

The ramped-up spending will aim to spur infrastructure investment, backed by as much as 2.8 trillion yuan ($394 billion) of local government special bonds, the sources said.

Dalian iron ore pared gains after Brazilian miner Vale SA said it might continue to operate the Teluk Rubiah maritime terminal in Malaysia following a coronavirus risk assessment.

Vale had flagged a possible shutdown of the distribution facility on Wednesday, rekindling worries over supply.

Also allaying supply concerns, BHP Group said on Thursday its operations had not been materially impacted so far by the outbreak.

Iron ore futures on the Singapore Exchange tumbled 4.3% in afternoon trade.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.6%. Hot-rolled coil, steel used in cars and home appliances, slipped 0.1% but stainless steel gained 1%.

* Coking coal shed 0.9% and coke dropped 0.3%.

* Benchmark 62% iron ore’s spot price settled at $90 a tonne on Thursday, easing from Wednesday’s three-week high of $92.50, SteelHome consultancy data showed. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

* Stocks of major steel products including rebar and hot-rolled coil held by traders in 35 cities in China dropped 628,700 tonnes, or 2.4%, to 25.4 million tonnes over March 13 to 19, based on Mysteel consultancy’s survey, citing improving demand.

$1 = 7.0652 yuan Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Subhranshu Sahu

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