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BEIJING: Futures of iron ore and other steelmaking ingredients in top steel producer China rose on Monday, underpinned by looming additional policy support to shore up the world’s second-biggest economy amid its battle to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

A top adviser to the People’s Bank of China on Saturday called for strengthening of real estate policy in light of sluggish economic growth as China pursued its zero-COVID policy this year.

China’s COVID outbreaks looked set to worsen, with Zhejiang — a big industrial province near Shanghai — battling around a million new daily infections, a number expected by the provincial government to double in the days ahead.

Analysts expect the spreading infections to continue curbing industrial activity and domestic demand in the near term.

Iron ore’s most-traded May contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended morning trade 1.2% higher at 827 yuan ($118.50) a tonne.

The Singapore Exchange was closed on Monday for Christmas break. The benchmark January SGX iron ore settled at $110.55 on Friday, down 0.6% for the week as sentiment swung between optimism and pessimism over China’s economic outlook.

“A stabilisation of China’s real estate sector, in combination with the country’s substantial infrastructure stimulus and only modest supply growth from Australia and Brazil, is expected to provide support to steel and iron ore prices (in 2023),” the Australian government said in its latest resources and energy quarterly report.

China buys about 70% of global seaborne iron ore volumes, with Australia accounting for about half of total supply.

Other Dalian steelmaking inputs were firmer, with coking coal up 3.3% and coke rising 3%.

Steel benchmarks advanced, with rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange up 0.8%, hot-rolled coil gaining 0.7%, wire rod climbing 0.4%, and stainless steel adding 1.5%.

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