It's unusually quiet in iron ore markets right now

GREG BAKER / AFP / Getty Images

Wednesday, March 1, was not the most exciting day for iron ore spot markets.

And perhaps that’s even over-embellishing things.

Markets did next to nothing, something that is newsworthy in itself given the wild daily swings that have now become a trademark of these markets over the past year.

The spot price for benchmark 62% fines fell by just one cent to $91.26 a tonne, according to pricing from Metal Bulletin. It was a little more lively for lower grade ores with the price for 58% fines sliding by five cents to $64.75 a tonne.

Curiously, there was no real impact on markets from a surge in coking coal prices during the session, a factor that has tended to help support iron ore prices in the past, particularly for higher grades.

Nor was there any reaction to stronger-than-expected data readings on activity levels in China’s manufacturing and steel sectors during February released earlier in the session.

“The iron ore market returned to relative stability today following a prolonged period of volatility,” said analyst at Metal Bulletin.

And that trend looks set to continue on Thursday, with Chinese futures doing little overnight, at least compared to usual standards.

Steel-linked contracts — rebar, iron ore, coke and coking coal — all added over 0.9% for the session.

Here’s the overnight scoreboard.

SHFE Copper ¥48,870 , 0.74%
SHFE Aluminium ¥14,335 , 1.52%
SHFE Zinc ¥23,385 , 1.23%
SHFE Nickel ¥91,430 , 1.09%
SHFE Rebar ¥3,551 , 1.00%
DCE Iron Ore ¥701.50 , 0.94%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,319.00 , 1.62%
DCE Coke ¥1,815.00 , 1.99%

The rebound in futures may have been in response to news that China has ordered steel and aluminium producers in 28 cities to slash output during winter in an attempt to curb pollution levels.

According to Reuters, citing a policy document, the government has called on steel producers to halve output in four northern provinces – Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan – as well as Beijing and Tianjin during winter to help improve air quality.

Trade in Chinese commodity futures will resume at midday AEDT.

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