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Iron ore rebounds as China property sector concerns ease

Benchmark iron ore futures rebounded on Friday following some positive news from China’s troubled property sector, but traders remained cautious over the overall demand outlook for the raw material in the world’s biggest steel producer.

The most-traded January iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange DCIOcv1 ended daytime trading 2.5% higher at 536 yuan ($84.00) a tonne. The contract hit 509.50 yuan earlier in the day, its lowest since Nov. 6, 2020, and marked its sixth consecutive weekly decline.

On the Singapore Exchange SZZFZ1, iron ore’s front-month December contract was up 5.1% at $90.60 a tonne, as of 0724 GMT.

“There’s been a swarm of positive news from Chinese property developers. This is sentiment-driven, nothing has actually changed,” said Atilla Widnell, managing director at Navigate Commodities in Singapore.

Debt-laden China Evergrande 3333.HK has resumed construction of 63 projects in the southern Pearl River delta, while Country Garden Services Holding 6098.HK raised HK$8 billion ($1 billion) in a share sale.

Concerns about the debt problems of Chinese property developers, a sector that accounts for about a quarter of the domestic steel demand, had recently added pressure on prices of iron ore and steel.

Benchmark 62%-grade iron ore’s spot price in China was $90 a tonne on Thursday, the weakest in 18 months, according to SteelHome consultancy data.

Environmental restrictions, which have forced Chinese steel mills to curb production this year, are likely to continue until after the Beijing Olympics in February as authorities seek to clear smog-laden skies.

“Despite ongoing steel production cuts, weak demand has resulted in a loose market balance, pulling down steel prices and margins,” said Richard Lu, a senior analyst at CRU in Beijing.

“In addition, iron ore inventories have built up to a multi-year high level.”

Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SRBcv1 climbed 2.2%, while hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 jumped 1.3%. Stainless steel SHSScv1 gained 0.4%.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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