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BEIJING: Benchmark iron ore futures in China rose on Thursday, extending gains for a second straight session, fuelled by restocking demand at mills and decent profit margins for steel products.

“(Mills) are currently at pre-holidays restocking period, adding that steel profits are good, there’s a possibility that they will increase purchase amid concerns of transportation curbs due to the virus,” Sinosteel Futures wrote in a note.

The most actively traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for May delivery, ended 1.6% higher at 1,055 yuan ($163.09) per tonne.

Spot prices of iron ore with 62% iron content for delivery to China was unchanged at $171.5 per tonne on Wednesday, according to SteelHome consultancy.

China’s iron ore imports hit a record high in 2020 to reach 1.17 billion tonnes, data from the official customs office showed. But December imports fell as the overseas market is recovering.

Other steelmaking ingredients fell, with Dalian coking coal dropping 1.6% to 1,666 yuan a tonne and coke down 0.1% to 2,744 yuan per tonne.

Steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange inched 0.1% higher to 4,294 yuan a tonne.

Hot rolled coil dipped 0.02% to 4,429 yuan.

Stainless steel futures, for March delivery, edged up 0.1% to 13,935 yuan a tonne.

Steel mills in northern China’s Hebei province are having to find more space for inventories as transportation restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of a resurgent coronavirus prevent them from sending out products to clients.

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