China iron ore tumbles 5 pct after speedy rally, steel falls too

24 February 2017

China's iron ore futures slid nearly 5 percent on Friday and were headed for a weekly loss after a rapid rally underpinned by expectations that strong infrastructure spending would spur steel demand in the world's top consumer.

The fall pulled iron ore futures further away from a record high reached earlier in the week, and should similarly drag down spot prices, which have climbed to multi-year highs near $100 a tonne.

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was down 4.9 percent at 681 yuan ($99) a tonne, after initially touching a two-week low of 674 yuan. The contract, which hit a record high of 741.50 yuan on Tuesday, was down 2.6 percent for the week.

"The size of today's move does reflect the speed with which iron ore has risen. But I suspect we will find a base over the next session or two before moving higher again," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.For some investors, it's "a shorting opportunity looking for a more normal iron ore price," he said.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB fell 3.1 percent to $91.34 a tonne on Thursday, according to Metal Bulletin. The spot benchmark, which hit a 30-month peak of $94.86 on Tuesday, was still up 1.1 percent so far this week.

"The underlying supply-demand (condition) is supportive of higher prices in my view. I wouldn't be surprised to see an iron ore price above $100 a tonne," said McCarthy.

Iron ore prices have tracked the rally in China's steel market that had been supported by hopes of a pickup in construction activity from next month as well as Beijing's efforts to boost infrastructure investment to spur the economy.

"While we continue to believe that steel and iron ore prices are factoring in overly optimistic demand projections, China is likely to keep infrastructure investment, particularly transport, supported to shore up growth before elections in November," Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped 2.9 percent to 3,411 yuan per tonne, after hitting a three-year high of 3,630 yuan on Tuesday.