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MANILA: Ferrous commodity futures in China climbed on Friday, with iron ore hovering near an eight-month peak as a gloomy domestic factory activity data bolstered expectations of additional economic stimulus measures for the world’s top steel producer.

The most-traded iron ore, for September delivery, on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange rose as much as 2.8% to 920 yuan ($144.90) a tonne, the highest since Aug. 5, putting it on track for a sixth straight weekly gain.

On the Singapore Exchange, the steelmaking ingredient’s most-active May contract advanced 1.4% to $161.90 a tonne. Spot iron ore in China traded at $158.50 a tonne on Thursday, the strongest since March 9, based on SteelHome consultancy data. China’s factory activity slumped at the fastest pace in two years in March, as the domestic COVID-19 resurgence and the economic fallout from the Ukraine war triggered sharp falls in production and demand. “The Chinese economy appears to have stumbled in March, as the spike in domestic COVID cases adds a downside risk to near-term domestic activity, along with rising uncertainty on the external sector amid global geopolitical risks,” economists at J.P. Morgan said. To shore up the economy, Beijing is expected to roll out policy measures, including fiscal support for infrastructure projects, via special local government bonds, and the corporate sector, via tax and fee reductions, they said in a note.

Cuts in the policy interest rate and the reserve requirement ratio are also expected, the analysts said. Additional stimulus beyond the National People’s Congress’ policy guideline hinges on whether growth pressure mounts further, they said. “The Politburo meeting in late April is worth watching out.”

Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 1.3% by noon break, while hot-rolled coil rose 1.4%. Stainless steel shed 0.8%. Dalian coking coal gained 1.1% and coke added 1.5%.

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