Why are ASX 200 iron ore shares being hammered hard on Friday?

It's a rough day for mining giants following iron ore futures' overnight tumble.

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Key points

  • ASX 200 iron ore giants are suffering on Friday, with shares in BHP, Fortescue, and Rio Tinto falling as much as 2.5%
  • It follows iron ore futures' 1.9% fall overnight amid continuously high Chinese inventories
  • That might suggest demand for – and therefore, price of – the material could underwhelm

Some of the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO)'s biggest names are among its worst performers on Friday as iron ore shares plummet.

It follows a rough slog for iron ore futures overnight as Chinese inventories remain high, perhaps suggesting demand for the steel-making ingredient could underwhelm.

It likely comes as no surprise, then, that the mining sector is suffering today.

The S&P/ASX 200 Materials Index (ASX: XMJ) is currently down 1.62% – coming in as the worst performer among the ASX 200's 11 sectors. That's compared to the index's 0.31% gain.

Let's take a closer look at what's going wrong for ASX 200 iron ore shares on Friday.

What's going wrong for ASX 200 iron ore shares?

Here's how many of the market's major iron ore shares are performing on Friday:

  • The BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share price is down 2.47%, trading at $47.645
  • The Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) share price has dumped 1.75% to reach $21.85
  • The Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) share price is falling 2.24% to hit $122.62

The drop follows a rough night for the red metal. Iron ore futures plunged 1.9% to US$123.95 a tonne overnight amid continuously high Chinese inventories.

That may have undermined expectations China's move away from its COVID-19-zero policy could bolster demand for iron ore.

The nation is the world's largest iron ore consumer and has reportedly recently doubled down on its property sector, thereby bolstering demand for steel and, likely in turn, iron ore.

However, China's National Development and Reform Commission noted its intent to "crack down" on activities designed to boost the price of the metal last month.

Of course, the higher the price of iron ore, the more earnings iron ore miners will realise from their production.

While today is proving to be a rough one for the ASX 200 giants, their year-to-date performance has been strong. The Fortescue share price has gained 7% since the start of 2023, while that of BHP and Rio Tinto have both lifted 5%.

Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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