August 30, 2019 / 3:56 AM / 2 months ago

China iron ore rebounds, but set for first monthly drop in nine

* Dalian, Singapore iron ore up more than 2%

* Dalian iron ore slumps more than 20% in August

* Coking coal prices to rebound in 2020 - Fitch

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Iron ore futures in China climbed on Friday, buoyed as some restocking demand for the steelmaking material emerged, but were on track for their first monthly decline since November 2018 as rising supply and uncertain demand prospects sparked selloffs.

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange , for January 2020 delivery, gained as much as 2.1% to 596 yuan ($84.03) a tonne, extending the rebound after hitting its lowest in nearly three months earlier in the week.

On the Singapore Exchange, the front-month October 2019 iron ore contract was 2.2% higher at $79.33 a tonne in early trade.

Dalian iron ore is set to post a more than 20% slump in August, while spot prices have pulled back from five-year peaks hit in early July, as shipments of the material from Brazil and Australia rose and domestic steel demand ebbed.

The steel glut in China, which produces half of the global supply, and a seasonal lull in demand weighed on prices of the construction and manufacturing material in recent weeks.

“The iron ore price collapse was triggered by macro events, but there were also fundamentals in the market that hinted at a correction,” said Erik Hedborg, iron ore analyst at metals consultancy CRU Group in London.

Some restocking demand has emerged to support iron ore prices, as steel mills anticipate production curbs in China’s top steelmaking city of Tangshan to be eased in September, and also prepare for a possible buildup in steel demand.

“Steel inventories are easing from the highs,” said Darren Toh, a data scientist with steel and iron ore analytics firm Tivlon Technologies in Singapore.

“Our data steel analytics model is expecting a ramp-up of steel demand starting from the second week of September,” he said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Benchmark spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China was steady at a 5-1/2-month low of $85 a tonne on Thursday, sliding from its July 3 peak of $126.50, based on SteelHome consultancy data.

* Imported iron ore inventories at China’s ports rose steadily for six straight weeks, hitting 124.65 million tonnes, as of Aug. 23 SH-TOT-IRONINV, the highest since end-May, SteelHome data showed.

* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.8% at 3,330 yuan a tonne, as of 0322 GMT, recovering from recent selloffs sparked by worries about demand amid an intensifying U.S.-Sino trade war.

* Hot-rolled coil, used in cars and home appliances, edged up 0.4% to 3,392 yuan a tonne.

* Coking coal was 0.4% higher at 1,303 yuan a tonne, while coke rose 1.5% to 1,901 yuan.

* Fitch Solutions revised downwards its coking coal price forecast for 2019 to $185 a tonne from $195 previously, saying a number of factors caused the sharp reversal of the upward trend in prices, including weak demand in China and improved supply in Australia. But it expects prices to stabilise and rise in 2020.

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($1 = 7.0928 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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