Iron ore holds near 6-month highs ahead of major Chinese economic data

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  • Iron ore spot markets finished mixed on Tuesday with small moves recorded across the board
  • Chinese futures eased in overnight trade, providing few clues as to what direction spot markets will move today
  • China will release official manufacturing, non-manufacturing and steel industry PMI reports for February today

Iron ore spot markets finished mixed on Tuesday.

The spot price for benchmark 62% fines slipped 0.3% to $79.15 a tonne, according to Metal Bulletin, easing back from the six-month high struck on Monday.

Seemingly, traders looked at $80 and balked, at least initially.

Despite the weakness in the benchmark, both lower and higher grade ores managed to inch higher over the session.

The price of 58% fines rose 0.3% to $44.37 a tonne. Ore with 65% Fe content also increased, lifting 0.2% to $95.20 a tonne.

The mixed price performance followed a reversal in Chinese iron ore futures earlier in the session.

According to the Dalian Commodities Exchange, the May 2018 contract closed down 0.6% to 546.5 yuan a tonne, recovering after falling heavily earlier in the session.

The losses in iron ore bucked the trend elsewhere with coke and coking coal prices adding 0.8% and 1% respectively to 2,273.5 yuan and 1,428.5 yuan.

Rebar futures traded separately in Shanghai continued to rally on the back of additional steel production curbs in China announced late last week, rising 0.9% to 4,035 yuan a tonne.

“Steel prices are rallying on the prospect of further cuts to steel production outside of the heating season,” Vivek Dhar, Mining and Energy Commodities Analyst at the Commonwealth Bank, said in a note on Tuesday.

“While rising steel margins are positive for iron ore prices, weaker steel output is negative for physical iron ore demand.The opposing price drivers will likely mean another volatile year in iron ore markets.”

Providing few clues as to what direction iron ore spot markets will travel today, Chinese futures inched lower in overnight trade.

Here’s the scoreboard:

SHFE Rebar ¥4,025 , 0.27%
DCE Iron Ore ¥543.50 , -0.46%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,415.50 , -0.18%
DCE Coke ¥2,260.00 , -0.42%

Trade in Chinese commodity futures will resume at midday AEDT, the same time that China will release official PMI readings for manufacturing, non-manufacturing and steel sector activity levels.

While not the case every month, both spot and iron ore markets have logged significant moves following the release of these reports in the past.

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