* China exports, imports rise unexpectedly
* China also clamping down on low-quality steel producers
* Dalian iron ore rises to strongest since January 2014
* Spot iron ore hits over two-year high on Wednesday
(Adds China trade data, HSBC comment, updates prices)
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Dec 8 Chinese steel and iron ore futures
rose for a sixth straight session on Thursday, spurred by upbeat
trade data and worries over tighter supply with Beijing
intensifying efforts to cut excess steel capacity.
China's imports grew at the fastest pace in more than two
years in November, fuelled by a strong thirst for commodities
from coal to iron ore, while exports also unexpectedly rose,
reflecting a pick-up in both domestic and global demand.
The spike in commodity imports signalled "accelerating
industrial and construction activity," HSBC economist Jing Li
wrote in a report.
"In the next few months, low base effect, demand
stabilization and price recovery will give import growth a nice
lift," said Li.
The most-traded rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange
closed up 1.7 percent at 3,394 yuan ($493) a tonne. The
construction steel product touched a 31-month high of 3,428 yuan
Along with inspections of steel mills in a fight against
pollution, China is also targeting producers of low-quality
rebar, which together have a combined capacity of 100
million-125 million tonnes a year, Morgan Stanley said in a
note, citing Chinese agencies Mysteel and Xiben Newline.
Output from these producers don't appear to be included in
China's official data "so the removal of this capacity could
have a material impact on supply and pricing," Morgan Stanley
"We see this as positive for large producers that can
benefit from market share increase."
On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, raw material iron ore
closed 1.1 percent higher at 635 yuan a tonne, after
hitting 653.50 yuan earlier, its loftiest since January 2014.
"Stronger steel prices tend to lead iron ore prices higher
as incentives to expand output increase. But that really only
works when the lift in steel prices is demand-led," Commonwealth
Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.
"With the lift in steel prices linked more with future
supply cuts, the more prevalent risk is that iron ore demand
will fall. This risk should eventually drive iron ore prices
Still, the rally in futures pushed spot iron ore back above
$80 a tonne on Wednesday as physical cargoes, mainly from top
suppliers Australia and Brazil, were sold higher this week.
Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB
climbed 3.2 percent to $82.25 a tonne, its strongest since
October 2014, according to Metal Bulletin.
China imported 91.98 million tonnes of iron ore in November,
up 13.8 percent from the previous month and one of the highest
monthly volumes on record, customs data showed.
($1 = 6.8802 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin and