Why are ASX 200 iron ore shares getting hammered on Monday?

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S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) iron ore shares are taking a beating today.

The benchmark index is back in the red today, down 0.7% in lunchtime trading. But the ASX 200 iron ore shares are doing it much tougher.

At the time of writing, the BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share price is down 4.66%; tea Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) share price is down 4.82%; and shares in Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG) have tumbled 7%.

So, what’s going on?

China’s economy could be slowing

China, as you likely know, is the world’s biggest importer of iron ore which is used in its massive steel industry. The Middle Kingdom imports some one billion tons of the commodity each year. That represents approximately 70% of the total global annual purchased iron ore production.

Of course, if the pace of China’s economic growth slows, its demand for steel to construct new buildings and infrastructure will fall. And along with that, its demand for iron ore.

As analysts become increasingly bearish on the outlook for Chinese GDP growth, iron ore futures have nosedived, falling 9.1%.

And that decline is throwing up some strong headwinds for ASX 200 iron ore shares today.

How have these ASX 200 iron ore shares performed in 2022?

Although one of the three ASX 200 iron ore miners is in the red for the 2022 calendar year, all of them still beat the benchmark returns. And that’s without including their lucrative dividends.

Year-to-date, the ASX 200 is down 15.6%.

Over that same period, Fortescue shares are down 10%; the Rio Tinto share price is 1.5% higher; while BHP shares are up a healthy 9.4% so far in 2022.

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