* Dalian iron ore extends gains for 4th straight day
* July iron ore shipments to China seen lower - analyst
* Iron ore supply to improve slowly in 2019, 2020 - Moody’s
By Enrico Dela Cruz
MANILA, July 30 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures rose more than 3% in early trade on Tuesday, extending gains for the fourth straight session, on expectations that imports of the steelmaking material remained weak in July.
The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange , for January 2020 delivery, gained as much as 3.5% to 780 yuan ($113.25) a tonne. It ended the morning session up 2.9%.
Average weekly shipments of iron ore to China from top exporters Brazil and Australia in the first three weeks of July were lower compared to June levels, said Argonaut Securities’ metals and mining analyst Helen Lau.
Average weekly shipment from Brazil decreased 8% versus June to 5.9 million tonnes, while cargoes from Australia decreased 13% to 15 million tonnes, she said, citing some industry tracking data.
“The data shows shipments are not recovering and not very stable,” Lau said. “We need to closely monitor these shipments on a weekly basis.”
Data provider Kpler expects China’s iron ore imports in July to be flat compared with June, but down 4.8% versus July 2018, saying Brazilian miner Vale SA ramped up shipments but major Australian miners reduced their exports.
China’s iron ore imports in June fell to 75.18 million tonnes, their lowest since February 2016, from 83.24 million tonnes in June 2018 and May’s 83.75 million tonnes, as supply declined from top miners in Australia and Brazil.
Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday it has revised its price-sensitivity ranges for iron ore to $60-$90 a tonne from a $45-$75 range due to tight supply.
Benchmark spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 was up 0.4% on Monday at $118 a tonne, according to data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.
Mine closures in Brazil and lower production in Australia have pushed the iron ore market into deficit, with the situation expected to improve only slowly through this year and 2020, it said in statement.
“Our new price ranges for iron ore reflect our expectation that only limited incremental new capacity will be added over the next few years,” said Carol Cowan, a Moody’s senior vice president.
“While higher output from major global miners and Chinese domestic producers will see prices go down somewhat, supply will not fully recover in the near future,” she said.
* The most-active construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SRBcv1, with October expiry, was down 0.1% at 3,910 yuan a tonne by midday break.
* Hot-rolled steel, used in cars and home appliances, slipped 0.5% to 3,801 yuan a tonne.
* Other steelmaking inputs were mixed, with coking coal up 0.4% while coke edged down 0.3%.
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($1 = 6.8876 yuan)
Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Rashmi Aich