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BEIJING: Iron ore futures extended gains on Friday and were on track for a weekly gain, thanks to a brighter demand outlook in top consumer China and improved fundamentals in the near term.

The most-traded September iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) ended daytime trade 3.12% higher at 843.5 yuan ($116.57) a metric ton, the highest since Mar. 26

It logged a fifth consecutive session of gains and a weekly rise of 9.3%.

The benchmark May iron ore on the Singapore Exchange climbed 2.89% to $111.35 a ton, as of 0928 GMT, the highest since Mar. 11 and an increase of 6.8% so far this week.

Average daily hot metal output climbed for a second week by 0.5% to 2.25 million tons as of April 12, while iron ore stocks at major ports rose by 0.2% to 144.87 million tons, a survey from consultancy Mysteel showed.

“Hot metal output will likely continuously pick up in the coming weeks and we expect portside ore stocks to fall to a low of around 130 million tons in the second quarter,” analysts at Galaxy Futures said in a note.

Quicker-than-expected progress for the pledged equipment upgrade also buoyed sentiment and supported prices. China will give strong financing for firms involved in the program of equipment upgrades and trade-ins of consumer goods, government officials said on Thursday, the latest bid to spur domestic demand.

China aims to boost equipment investment in key sectors of the economy by 25% between 2023 and 2027, alongside efforts to speed up recycling of used cars and home appliances.

China’s iron ore imports in March rose about 0.5% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Friday, on expectations of a demand pick-up after the Lunar New Year holiday break as steelmakers typically ramp up production.

Other steelmaking ingredients on the DCE surged, with coking coal and coke up 5.01% and 5.92%, respectively. Steel benchmarks on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were mostly higher and headed for weekly gains. Rebar added 0.95%, hot-rolled coil advanced 0.69%, wire rod rose 2.44%, while stainless steel was little moved.

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