Seaborne iron ore prices continued to hold firm on Friday as the market looks to Chinese buyers to return to trading in the coming week, following the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Kallanish KORE 62% Fe index and the KORE 65% Fe index gained $0.75/t and $0.76/t respectively on Friday to $129.54/dry metric tonne cfr Qingdao and $142.61/dmt cfr. The KORE 58% Fe index declined by $0.07/t to $115.54/dmt cfr.

On the Singapore Exchange, February 62% Fe futures and 65% Fe futures each settled $1.82/t higher at $131.27/t and $144.78/t respectively. The same contract for 58% Fe futures is stable at $114.31/t. Tangshan billet rose CNY 20/t at CNY 3,570/t.

BMI Research has maintained its 2024 iron ore price forecast at an annual average of $120/tonne, as price resilience continues from positive sentiment over Chinese stimulus hopes. It expects the annual average for 2024-2028 would reach $99/t, which will be higher than the 2016-2020 average of $78/t (see separate story).

According to BMI, slowing Chinese demand growth will be the main driver of lower prices, a trend that is now already in its early stages.