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China iron ore futures rebound as Vale cuts production outlook

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China's iron ore futures jumped more than 2 per cent on Tuesday after Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, lowered its production outlook for the steelmaking raw material.

[MANILA] China's iron ore futures jumped more than 2 per cent on Tuesday after Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, lowered its production outlook for the steelmaking raw material.

Dalian Commodity Exchange's most-traded iron ore contract , with January 2020 expiry, rose as much as 2.2 per cent to 654.50 yuan (S$126.91) a tonne, recovering after a 0.8 per cent decline in the previous session. It was up 2 per cent, as of 0205 GMT.

On the Singapore Exchange, the front-month January 2020 iron ore contract was up 0.6 per cent at US$86.88 a tonne.

Vale said on Monday it would slash output from its Brucutu mine in Brazil for up to two months as it evaluates the stability of the nearby Laranjeiras dam. The move will leave Brucutu, Vale's biggest mine in Minas Gerais state, operating at 40 per cent of normal capacity.

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As a result, Vale lowered its iron ore production outlook for the first quarter of 2020 to a range of 68 million to 73 million tonnes from a previously announced range of 70 million to 75 million tonnes.

The revised outlook comes at a time iron ore inventory at ports in China, the world's biggest steel producer, has slumped to the lowest in nearly 10 weeks, while steel demand remains firm amid Beijing's sustained policy support for the slowing domestic economy.

"As (China's) winter production control is less severe than last year and steel demand remains solid due to government's support policies, we expect the steel prices to rise further, underpinning further recovery in iron ore and coking coal prices," said Helen Lau, metals and mining analyst at Argonaut Securities.

FUNDAMENTALS

- Imported iron ore stocks at Chinese ports fell for a third straight week to 129.40 million tonnes, as of Nov. 29, the lowest since late-September, based on data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.

- Iron ore exports by Brazil, China's main source of high-grade material, reached 27.25 million tonnes in November, down from 33.35 million tonnes in October and 33.97 million tonnes in November last year, government data showed.

- Prices for spot cargoes of benchmark iron ore with 62 per cent iron content for delivery to China dropped to US$88.50 a tonne on Monday from Friday's US$89.00, SteelHome data showed.

- The most-traded construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.3 per cent, while hot-rolled steel coil edged up 0.4 per cent.

- Dalian coking coal gained 0.5 per cent and Dalian coke advanced 1.1 per cent.

REUTERS