SINGAPORE: Iron ore futures gained on Thursday, as market participants reacted to upbeat export figures from China and positive updates from major producers.
The most-traded May iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) rose 3.9% to 941 yuan ($131.46) per metric ton at closing. On the Singapore Exchange, the benchmark January iron ore was up 1.8% to $131.65 a metric ton as of 0750 GMT.
Declines in China’s exports likely slowed in November, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday, amid signs that factories may be finding their footing after a slump in demand. China’s iron ore imports in November climbed 3.4% from October, customs data showed on Thursday, as improved steel mill margins and a rebound in the yuan underpinned buying of the key steelmaking ingredient.
Brazilian miner Vale, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, held its production target for the second straight year, as it counts on stronger-than-expected Chinese demand.
Rio Tinto, on Wednesday brought forward the start of production from its giant Simandou iron ore project to a year earlier, which will add around 5% to global seaborne supply.
“The stable output guidance from major producers would continue to support the upward rally of the raw material prices next year as well, given the expectations of recovering downstream demand,” ING analysts said in a report.
State-backed DCE on Nov. 30 said it will enhance supervision of the iron ore market. This came after an announcement on Nov. 24 that China will reinforce oversight to curb a price rally. Despite its initial effectiveness at price control, its effects are waning, analysts said.
Steel benchmarks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose. The most-active rebar contract strengthened 2.2%, hot-rolled coil grew 3.2%, wire rod increased 2.2%, and stainless steel gained 1.3%. Other steelmaking ingredients Dalian coking coal and coke inched up 2.3% and 4%, respectively.