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MANILA: Dalian iron ore wobbled on Friday and was on track for its steepest weekly fall since mid-February, while prices in Singapore fell more than 2%, dragged down by a gloomy outlook for demand from top steel producer China.

The most-traded iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended a volatile morning trade 0.7% higher at 734 yuan ($109.67) a tonne. The benchmark contract has slumped more than 12% this week following a record 10-session slide.

On the Singapore Exchange, the steelmaking ingredient’s front-month July contract fell as much as 2.5% to $113.30 a tonne. SGX iron ore climbed 7.4% in the previous session, rebounding from its weakest close this year on Wednesday at $108.14, after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to take more effective measures to achieve the country’s economic and social development goals.

Xi’s remarks also buoyed the spot market, with the benchmark 62%-grade iron ore bound for China trading at $117.50 a tonne on Thursday. It dropped to $112.50 the day before, the lowest since Dec. 10, according to SteelHome consultancy data. While “market confidence has been restored to a certain extent”, Sinosteel Futures analysts said the absence of any additional and specific economic stimulus measures from Beijing will limit any price gains for now. In China’s steel production hub, Tangshan city, 56 of the 126 blast furnaces were shut down for maintenance, according to Sinosteel, as mills struggled to cope with slumping margins amid weak steel demand and high inventories.

COVID-19 restrictions, which have put downward pressure on the property sector, and disruptions to construction activity caused by unfavourable weather are additional headwinds for China’s mammoth steel sector. Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.5%, while hot-rolled coil gained 0.4%. Stainless steel dropped 2.5%. Dalian coking coal dipped 0.6%, but coke climbed 0.5%.

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