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MANILA: Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures fell on Thursday and were on track to post a quarterly loss due to persistent demand worries for the steel-making ingredient in top steel producer China. The most-traded iron ore for September delivery on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange dropped as much as 2.7% to 787 yuan a tonne, after four straight sessions of gains, stretching its quarterly loss to about 11%. On the Singapore Exchange, iron ore’s front-month July contract was down 1% at $121.55 a tonne as of 0341 GMT, and on pace to mark its third consecutive monthly fall.

Dalian iron ore hit this year’s peak at 948 yuan a tonne on June 6, while SGX iron ore had risen up to $168.65 a tonne on March 8, supported by hopes for additional stimulus for China’s struggling economy. In the spot market, the benchmark 62%-grade iron ore bound for China, which traded at $124 a tonne on Wednesday, based on SteelHome consultancy data, had fallen 24% from this year’s peak of $163 hit on March 7. Strict anti-COVID measures in China and unfavourable weather conditions for construction activity weighed on ferrous markets in recent weeks, along with fading hopes of further economic support. But positive signals from Chinese authorities helped iron ore regain some lost ground.

“China is becoming more willing to accept single-digit COVID cases,” said Iris Pang, ING chief economist in Greater China, citing moves to ease quarantine requirements for international arrivals and the scrapping or relaxing of testing mandates in several cities. Pang said this reflects “a more flexible policy than back in early June”, although she warned that the risk of lockdowns still exists. Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange edged up 0.1%, while hot-rolled coil slipped 0.1%. Stainless steel rose 0.8%. Dalian coking coal and coke both fell 3.7%.

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