BEIJING: Dalian iron ore futures extended gains for a second session on Thursday as market sentiment improved following the removal of production curbs in key steel-making cities and on better-than-expected manufacturing data from China.

Handan and Tangshan, China’s top steel production hub, lifted pollution restrictions on Wednesday after air quality improved. The most-traded May iron ore futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) was up 1.11% at 908.5 yuan ($131.93) a tonne, as of 0211 GMT. The contract gained nearly 2.5% in the previous session. “The removal of production restrictions has partly contributed to the rising [iron ore] futures prices this morning. In addition, steel mills’ iron ore inventories hover at a relatively low level, lending support to prices,” analysts from Haitong Futures said.

On the Singapore Exchange, the benchmark April iron ore consolidated at about $126 a tonne. Other steel-making ingredients-coke and coking coal exhibited divergent trends. Coke moved 0.54% higher, while coking coal nudged down 0.3%. Expectations of growing demand for steel products in March and April also lifted the steel-making raw material.

“Home sales by major developers rose in February for the first time in 20 months, aided by positive signs of demand in the steel sector,” analysts from ANZ bank said in a note. Transactions of construction steel products across the country totalled 204,025 tonnes on March 1, posting a week-on-week rise of 33.06%, data from consultancy Mysteel showed.

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