On Wednesday, the National Bureau of Statistics announced that China’s manufacturing PMI in January 2024 was 49.2, up 0.2 points from the previous value. Tamed by a new round of rain and snow, apparent demand for construction steel fell sharply, leading to a heavy inventory build-up. In addition, there was an end of stockpiling of steel mills. Market sentiment weakened amid waning impact of short-term bullish policies. Iron ore market kept swinging on a subdued footing last week. In terms of spot prices at ports, the spot prices of PB fines in Shandong dropped 7 yuan/mt WoW.
Looking at this week, according to SMM, there will be scheduled restart of BFs. Pig iron output hiked by 11,500 mt, but may increase to a limited extent this week amid weaker-than-expected restart of BFs. In terms of supply, in spite of the off-season for shipments, overseas shipments will be relatively stable, or may remain at the medium level amid no extreme weather fallout. Fundamentals will have minimal impact on ore prices. With the forthcoming Lunar New Year, stockpiling of steel mills basically ended. Market activity will be at standstill. There will be no macro policies. Iron ore prices may keep swinging narrowly.