MANILA: Iron ore futures fell on Monday, with the Dalian benchmark hitting a four-week low after the Chinese Golden Week holiday, as negative steel mill margins, steel production curbs, and uncertain economic recovery weighed on demand and sentiment.
The most-traded January iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange dropped as much as 2.9% to hit 827 yuan ($113.35) per metric ton, its weakest since Sept. 11. On the Singapore Exchange, the steelmaking ingredient’s benchmark November contract was down 2.3% at $112.25 per ton, as of 0410 GMT.
Following robust third-quarter gains driven by China’s stimulus measures for its flagging economy and struggling property sector, iron ore prices may soften in the near term as market fundamentals weaken and China’s recovery remains uncertain, analysts said.
“This month may see iron ore market fundamentals in China… begin to deteriorate,” consultancy Mysteel said in its monthly outlook, citing rising supply and softening demand in the country that accounts for more than half of the world’s steel output.
Some member mills of the Yunnan provincial iron ore and steel association have decided to reduce steel production in October to stem losses, according to Mysteel, likely adding to demand concerns. China’s trade data for September, including iron ore imports, are due on Friday and may provide a fresh insight on steel and iron ore demand.
Signs of a deepening crisis in China’s property sector are also keeping the market on edge. Country Garden, which missed two dollar interest payments last month, faces another deadline on Monday with two coupons totalling $66.8 million coming due. Steel benchmarks in Shanghai fell.