China’s iron ore futures vaulted to a one-week high on Friday, putting the benchmark contract on track for a weekly gain, buoyed by expectations of improved demand for the steelmaking raw material after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCIOcv1) jumped 5.2% to 1,014.50 yuan ($156.63) a tonne by 0330 GMT, after earlier hitting a one-week high of 1,017 yuan.
It has gained 3% this week, after three consecutive weekly losses.
On the Singapore Exchange (SZZFH1), iron ore rose 0.2% to $153 a tonne.
Spot iron ore in China jumped to $157 a tonne on Thursday, from $150 a day before, SteelHome consultancy data showed. (SH-CCN-IRNOR62)
Weekly Chinese steel inventory data released on Thursday to “select” institutional clients showed that the growth in warehouse stocks had far outpaced those held by domestic steel producers, said Atilla Widnell, managing director at Navigate Commodities in Singapore.
“Traders of the DCE and SGX-listed iron ore futures contract perceived this data to be bullish for underlying physical demand,” he said.
“It suggests COVID-19 afflicted steel supply chains are returning to normal and local blast furnaces may soon start to lift capacity utilization rates to meet stimulus-fuelled steel demand for 2021.”
Asian iron ore markets are likely to be quiet in the next two weeks, with physical and derivatives traders expected to be away as top steel producer China celebrates the Lunar New Year with a week-long holiday beginning on Feb. 11.
After the holiday, Widnell said “leading indicators will be the pace at which warehouses restock steel, rebounding blast furnace capacity utilization rates, and slower arrivals of Australian and Brazilian iron ore – all of which should be price supportive”.
Coking coal (DJMcv1) jumped 4% while coke (DCJcv1) climbed 2.8%.
Rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SRBcv1) gained 1.6%, hot-rolled coil (SHHCcv1) added 2.1%, stainless steel (SHSScv1) rose 0.1%.