* Dalian iron ore posts second straight weekly gain
* Eyes on policy support as virus rattles investors (Updates with closing prices, chart)
MANILA, March 13 (Reuters) - Iron ore futures in China and Singapore reversed early losses to trade higher on Friday, helped by growing expectations for further policy measures to support a global economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Iron ore’s most-active May contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended up 2.9% at 676.50 yuan ($96.77) a tonne, rebounding from a 2.3% slump in morning trade.
On the Singapore Exchange, the steelmaking raw material’s front-month April contract was 1.5% higher in afternoon trade, recovering from a 2.2% fall earlier in the session.
Dalian iron ore rose 2.6% this week, adding to last week’s 6.6% gain, supported by lingering supply concerns due to declining inventories at China’s ports and hopes for a stimulus-fuelled recovery in demand.
Many businesses in top steel producer China have reopened after weeks of shutdowns due to virus containment measures, but overall demand for metals remains clouded because of the global pandemic.
“The market has been looking for further central bank easing and global fiscal stimulus amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” ING commodities strategists wrote in a note.
“On base metals and iron ore, there have been growing hopes for China’s fiscal stimulus though there has been a lack of detail,” they said.
ING economists expects the People’s Bank of China to cut the loan prime rate by another 10 basis points next week.
The COVID-19 disease has now infected almost 135,000 and killed more than 4,900 worldwide, mostly in China, where the coronavirus originated, but the country has been reporting fewer new cases, suggesting the peak of infections there has passed.
* Stocks plunged on Friday with coronavirus panic selling hitting nearly every asset class, before recovering amid hopes of more stimulus measures from the United States.
* Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 1.9%, while hot-rolled coil climbed 1.6%, but stainless steel slipped 0.3%.
* Coking coal jumped 2.3% and coke gained 3.1%
* Iron ore prices in the physical market also remained volatile, with the industry benchmark 62% iron ore falling to $90.50 a tonne on Thursday, after rising to $91.50 the day before, based on data from SteelHome consultancy. SH-CCN-IRNOR62
($1 = 6.9911 yuan)
Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Aditya Soni
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