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China iron ore snaps 10-day rally as pandemic looms

Hellenicshippingnews - China’s iron ore futures snapped a 10-day winning streak on Tuesday on fears that the fast-spreading coronavirus could turn into a pandemic and further disrupt businesses and hurt the global economy.

The worsening health crisis, with the death toll still rising in China and infections spreading to more places outside Asia, could dampen global demand for the steelmaking raw material and steel products.

In China, the world’s top steel producer and seller, the stockpiles of rebar, stainless steel and other products have dramatically built up after the epidemic had stalled many construction projects and kept factories shut for weeks.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed 0.5% lower at 672.50 yuan ($95.72) a tonne, after falling as much as 3% earlier in the session. Futures on the Singapore Exchange fell 1% to $88.17 in afternoon trade.

Dalian iron ore, until Monday, had risen 16.6% over the past 10 sessions, its longest rally since June 2016, as it defied weakness seen in industrial metals as punters focused on tightening supplies from Australia and Brazil and Beijing’s economic stimulus measures.

The tightness in iron ore seaborne supplies is temporary, said Hui Heng Tan, analyst at commodities broker Marex Spectron, predicting that the current condition will ease somewhat in the next few weeks.

But it may take some time before Chinese demand for iron ore could pick up materially as steel production may remain sluggish amid high inventories, he said.

“Steel mills remain in destocking mode as end-users cut down on steel rates to slow down the rapid build-up in steel product inventories,” Tan said, adding that mills have also cut output as margins have shrunk to levels last seen in June 2019.

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