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MANILA: Dalian iron ore was flat on Monday, while Singapore prices slumped nearly 2%, as traders took a breather after last week’s strong gains and turned cautious ahead of the Chinese Spring Festival holidays and Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

Iron ore’s most-traded iron ore for May delivery on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended the morning session 0.1% lower at 752 yuan ($118.75) a tonne, after hitting 771.50 yuan in early trade, its highest since Oct. 13.

The steelmaking ingredient’s most-active March contract on the Singapore Exchange fell 1.9% to $134.50 a tonne by 0334 GMT, after touching a contract high of $141.40 a tonne earlier in the session.

The Spring Festival holiday in top steel producer China runs from Jan. 31 until Feb. 6, but steel mills’ operations are expected to remain curtailed throughout February to improve air quality during the Beijing Games.

On Monday, China’s environment ministry said Beijing and the surrounding Hebei province would take emergency actions to curb heavy pollution, as it warned that weather conditions ahead of the Olympics were “very unfavourable”, suggesting tighter steel production controls in the coming weeks.

But analysts said support for iron ore prices may remain intact despite the steel output restrictions, as China has stepped up monetary easing efforts to prop up an economy facing headwinds from the re-imposition of COVID-19 curbs and troubles in its property sector.

Last week, spot iron ore prices in China scaled their highest in more than three months.

“The system will be awash with hot money and liquidity, with investors using industrial metals as a speculative proxy for 2022 economic growth,” said Atilla Widnell, managing director at Navigate Commodities in Singapore.

Construction steel rebar and hot-rolled coil on the Shanghai Futures Exchange each slipped 0.3%, while stainless steel slumped 4.3% after last week’s rally.

Dalian coking coal dropped 1.4% and coke shed 0.3%.

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