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BEIJING: Chinese iron ore futures surged around 3% on Friday and were on course for a third straight weekly gain amid demand hopes, fuelled by Beijing’s fresh stimulus measures, while steel prices were range-bound as production curbs at mills weighed.

Capacity utilisation rates of blast furnaces at 247 steel mills across the country continue to recover and stood at 81.08% this week, up from 79.89% a week earlier, data from consultancy Mysteel showed.

“There is strong anticipation that steel production will resume in the medium term,” SinoSteel Futures analysts said, but warned that short-term demand for steelmaking ingredients is pressured due to the Winter Olympics and pandemic-related restrictions.

Huatai Futures noted that China’s recent monetary policy came in line with central government’s requirements, and more policies are expected to shore up the world’s second-largest economy. Benchmark iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for May delivery, jumped as much as 3% to 762 yuan ($120.12) per tonne, the highest since Oct. 13. They were up 1.7% at 752 yuan a tonne, as of 0153 GMT, and set to gain 4.4% this week.

Other steelmaking ingredients, however, dropped on the Dalian bourse, with coking coal down 1.1% to 2,242 yuan a tonne and coke prices slipping 0.9% to 2,922 yuan per tonne. The Indonesian government on Thursday eased a coal export ban for 139 companies after the firms met local market sales requirements aimed at averting a supply crunch and power outages.

Construction-used steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange and hot-rolled coils each inched up 0.2% to 4,714 yuan and 4,819 yuan per tonne, respectively.

Shanghai stainless steel futures, for March delivery, edged down 0.1% to 18,305 yuan a tonne, after surging to a daily trading limit on Thursday fuelled by nickel prices.

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