Iron ore seesaws as traders weigh demand prospects in China

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SGX iron ore hits three-week low below $120/T

Dalian iron ore edges higher in choppy trade

Updates prices

By Enrico Dela Cruz

Feb 8 (Reuters) -Iron ore futures swung back and forth on Wednesday, with the Singapore benchmark briefly trading below $120 a tonne, as traders reassessed near-term demand prospects in top steel producer China.

Benchmark March iron ore on the Singapore Exchange SZZFH3 was up 0.1% at $121.10 a tonne, as of 0715 GMT, after falling 2.5% to $118 a tonne earlier in the session, its weakest since Jan. 17.

On China's Dalian Commodity Exchange, the steelmaking ingredient's most-active May contract DCIOcv1 ended daytime trade 0.7% higher at 848 yuan ($124.99)a tonne. It earlier dropped 1.1% to 833 yuan.

China's stepped-up policy support for its ailing property sector and dismantling of strict COVID-19 restrictions had pushed iron ore and steel prices to multi-month highs in January.

"Prospects of strong iron ore demand due to China's reopening and various supportive measures for the property market are well reflected in the recent price rally in iron ore," ANZ commodity strategists said in a note.

"Nevertheless, property market indicators are still subdued. While recent developments are boding well for demand, we expect iron ore prices to consolidate before seasonal demand kicks in."

Iron ore was supported after the world's largest miner BHP Group BHP.AX said it had suspended its Western Australian iron ore operations for a day after a worker was struck by a train at its Port Hedland facility.

But increasing portside iron ore inventory in China, which as of last week was the biggest since December based on SteelHome consultancy data, also kept trading subdued. SH-TOT-IRONINV

The real recovery in Chinese iron ore demand could be seen in the second quarter, analysts said.

Other Dalian steelmaking inputs were firmer, with coking coal DJMcv1 up 1.2%, while coke DCJcv1 gained 2%.

Steel benchmarks also gained, with rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SRBcv1 up 1%, hot-rolled coil SHHCcv1 gaining 1.2%, and wire rod SWRcv1 climbing 0.4%. Stainless steel SHSScv1 slipped 0.4%.

Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips


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