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BEIJING: Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures weakened on Monday after China’s state planner said last week it had sought expert advice on policy measures to deal with the recent rapid rise in prices of the raw material.

The most-traded May iron ore futures contact on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) traded 3.16% lower at 887.5 yuan ($128.51)a tonne as of 0214 GMT.

Meanwhile, on the Singapore Exchange, the benchmark April iron ore contract traded at $121.7 a tonne, down 2.94%.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said late on Friday that its price monitoring unit had met with experts who said rising prices were driven by speculation, and suggested authorities should strengthen market supervision.

They also advised “cracking down” on the spreading of misleading pricing information, hoarding and speculation, according to the post on NDRC’s official Wechat account.

“Some market participants with long positions liquidated their positions today to lock profits because of concerns that prices may face continued downward pressure following the news from NDRC”, said Huang Jing, an iron ore trader from Shanghai Yongjiu, a domestic trading agency.

Also, the northern Chinese city of Tangshan, the country’s top steelmaking hub, said on Saturday that it would initiate another round of level 2 emergency response from March 4 to handle the forecast heavy air pollution.

Some local steel producers have been impacted by the move, consultancy Mysteel said in a report, without giving details. The emergency actions typically require steel plants to curb production. It is the second time in a fortnight that Tangshan has implemented pollution measures.

Other steelmaking ingredients - coking coal and coke - as well as downstream steel products, also registered losses.

Coking coal slid 1.67% and coke dipped 1.88%. Rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange lost 1.55% to 4,183 yuan a tonne, hot-rolled coil declined 1.01%, wire rod fell 1.25%. Stainless steel inched up 0.09%. China’s decision to set a modest 5% economic growth target for 2023, revealed at Sunday’s parliament opening, may also have knocked some of the optimism in commodity markets.

The lower-than-expected target means that macroeconomic stimulus policies this year may not be as strong as previously expected, analysts at Citic Futures said in a note.

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