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MANILA: Benchmark Dalian iron ore futures fell for a third straight session on Tuesday as a slide in steel prices in China spurred by signs of slowing demand dragged down the raw material.

The most-traded iron ore for September delivery on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange shed as much as 4.5% in early trade to 1,106 yuan ($173.03) a tonne, its lowest since June 1.

Iron ore’s most-active July contract on the Singapore Exchange slumped as much as 2% to $190 a tonne, before clawing back some ground.

The decline in China’s inventory of construction steel rebar slowed sharply last week, indicating easing demand, which has been anticipated with the monsoon season bringing rains to southern provinces while scorching temperatures hit the north.

However, it might be a little too early to worry about steel demand in China, said Atilla Widnell, managing director at Navigate Commodities in Singapore.

China’s rebar inventories have fallen more than 40% from the peak seen in March, while the country’s stocks of hot-rolled coil - which is used in car bodies and home appliances - fluctuated over the last five weeks, SteelHome data showed.

“The devil is in the detail, however, and we recommend waiting for two more weeks’ worth of data points to confirm whether construction steel demand is entering its seasonal slowdown,” Widnell said.

Rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended the morning trade down 2.4%, while hot-rolled coil fell 2.2%, both hitting the weakest since June 1. Stainless steel dropped 1.4%.

Other steelmaking ingredients also weakened, with Dalian coking coal down 1.3% while coke slipped 0.5%.

Spot iron ore for delivery to China dropped to $203 a tonne on Monday, from Friday’s $207, SteelHome data showed.

The benchmark 62% iron ore grade has declined about 12% from a record peak touched last month, when strong demand accompanied by heavy market speculation fuelled the rally.

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