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China steel, iron ore rise as dovish Fed lifts risk-appetite

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Iron ore and steel futures in China climbed on Thursday, tracking firmer equities elsewhere as risk-appetite increased after the US Federal Reserve signaled fewer interest rate increases this year amid global headwinds.

[BEIJING] Iron ore and steel futures in China climbed on Thursday, tracking firmer equities elsewhere as risk-appetite increased after the US Federal Reserve signaled fewer interest rate increases this year amid global headwinds.

The gains, also seen in Singapore iron ore futures, may be tough to sustain as seasonal steel demand in China remained slow.

Chinese steel demand could pick up steam by end-March or early April with construction activity thickening as the weather gets warmer, said Richard Lu, analyst at consultancy CRU in Beijing.

"But we do not think the support from seasonal demand will be strong enough to lift prices sharply," said Mr Lu. He said spot prices of construction steel products in China, including rebar, continued to drop after last week's rally that was fueled by speculative buying.

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Rebar in Shanghai was sold around 2,200 yuan (S$462) a tonne on Wednesday, down by around 170 yuan from last week, said Mr Lu.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, May rebar was up 2.7 per cent at 2,046 yuan a tonne by 0302 GMT, but off an eight-month high of 2,138 yuan reached on March 10.

Stockpiles of rebar held by Chinese traders dropped nearly 300,000 tonnes to 6 million tonnes as of March 11 from the prior week, said Mr Lu, suggesting only a modest pickup in demand so far.

The most-traded May iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange climbed 2.7 per cent to 426.50 yuan a tonne.

The gains in ferrous futures followed firmer equities in Asia after the Fed held interest rates steady on Wednesday, with fresh projections showing policymakers expected two quarter-point hikes by the year's end, half the number seen in December.

On the Singapore Exchange, May iron ore advanced 3.1 per cent to US$51.54 a tonne.

"These days of volatility on iron ore derivatives will continue, but on the physical side the downward trend will continue as well," said a Shanghai-based trader.

REUTERS

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