* Rebar, iron ore futures rise nearly 1 pct
* Order books full at many Chinese steel mills - CRU (Updates prices, adds coking coal and coke)
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Chinese steel futures rose to a fresh 4-1/2-year high on Thursday as investors remained bullish ahead of production cuts in the world’s top steel producer.
Demand remained strong, encouraging steel mills to keep offer prices high. Iron ore futures also climbed.
The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 0.9 percent at 3,964 yuan ($595) a tonne. The construction steel product hit a session high of 4,016 yuan, its strongest level since March 2013.
“The order books are full at many mills through August so they are very aggressive in asking for high prices from customers,” said Richard Lu, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.
Even if steel prices do retreat later this month or in September after recent rapid gains, Lu said he doesn’t “expect prices to collapse quickly.”
China’s bid to curb steel production by as much as 50 percent in major producing areas such as Hebei province during winter spurred a rally in steel prices this week.
In Hebei, steelmakers are required to comply with state- and province-level emission restrictions by Sept. 1 or they will be shut down, the Hebei Province Environmental Protection Bureau said on Tuesday.
The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange gained 0.9 percent to end at 563.50 yuan per tonne.
While overall iron ore supply in China is high, particularly at its ports, traders said availability of high-grade raw material is limited. Steel producers are increasingly opting for higher grade iron ore to boost efficiency.
“There isn’t a lot of high-grade around and Chinese mills are preferring high-grade because they want to produce more with steel prices rising,” said a trader in Jinan in China’s eastern Shandong province.
Stockpiles of imported iron ore at China’s ports stood at 139.15 million tonnes on Friday, according to data tracked by SteelHome. SH-TOT-IRONINV
That was not far below the record 141.45 million tonnes reached in June, but the Jinan-based trader said only about a fifth of that inventory is comprised of high-quality Australian iron ore fines.
Coking coal, also used in steelmaking, also climbed, with the most-active contract on Dalian exchange rising 1.7 percent to 1,334.50 yuan per tonne. Coke jumped 2.2 percent to 2,161 yuan. ($1 = 6.6646 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)