Fears about global oversupply and consumption of iron ore in China sent prices for the key ingredient in steelmaking down to near six-month lows on Tuesday (18 April).
Data released overnight suggested China's steel output rose 1.8% in March to 72m tonnes, as the country's steelmakers upped production on the back of cheaper and domestically sourced iron ore in anticipation of a seasonal uptick in demand from the construction sector.
According to price aggregator The Steel Index the development saw Australian iron ore for immediate delivery into China – a spot benchmark – down 5.04%, or $3.10 to $61.50 per tonne.
Barely two months ago the price was around $94.50 per tonne, before concerns over China's supply and demand dynamic began to cloud the outlook.
The futures market painted an equally troubling picture. On China's Dalian Commodity Exchange, the iron ore futures contract fell by over 4% to Rmb478.5 ($69.47) per tonne intraday; a level that has not been recorded in nearly five months.
Analysts at Commerzbank said the outlook could worsen for Chinese demand as "the dynamism of [China's] GDP growth declines in the next few quarters" particularly because of the attempts to combat the country's property market bubble.
Away from industrial metals, gold continued to lead precious metals with the Comex contract for June delivery staying broadly flat at $1,291.80 an ounce at 5.47pm BST, while spot gold was up 0.39% or $4.98 to $1,289.69 an ounce.
However, other precious metals were in negative territory, with the Comex silver contract for May delivery down 1.67% or 31 cents to $18.21 an ounce, while spot platinum was 0.82% or $8.04 lower at $975.98 an ounce.
Meanwhile, oil futures continued to struggle for direction as the risk premium infused in the wake of US airstrikes on Syria slipped into the background and market forces tried to reconcile lower Opec production against possibly higher US production.
At 5:53pm BST, the Brent front month futures contract was down 0.72% or 40 cents to $54.96 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 0.40% or 21 cents lower at $52.44 per barrel.
Analysts at Vienna-based JBC Energy said: "The cautious tone hit by Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih regarding an extension to the current output deal that has taken some of the wind out of the bulls' sails.
"Besides that, US Energy Information Administration estimates for a combined 124,000 barrels per day growth in US shale production has added another bearish element to the market."