Iron ore climbs as China demand hopes offset rising stockpile concerns

* Dalian iron ore climbs 2.1%, SGX iron ore rises 1%

* China iron ore port stocks at 5-month high - SteelHome

MANILA, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Benchmark iron ore futures rose on Monday, as upbeat demand outlook for the steelmaking ingredient in China offset concerns over data showing a steady rise in the country’s portside stockpiles.

Iron ore’s most-active January 2021 contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended the morning session up 2.1% at 845.50 yuan ($123.80) a tonne.

Iron ore’s front-month October contract on the Singapore Exchange rose 1% to $124.60 a tonne.

“Iron ore supply-demand balance remains tight, despite being eased somewhat,” said Richard Lu, senior analyst with consultancy CRU in Beijing.

Indicating China’s strong appetite for iron ore, the world’s biggest buyer imported nearly 760 million tonnes between January and August, 11% higher over the same period last year, with demand recovering strongly after the COVID-19 pandemic shock.

“(Chinese iron ore) importers have been buying a much larger proportion of available supply in recent months than they have ever done before with no signs of any let up,” said Robert Rennie, head of financial market strategy at Westpac.

Westpac’s model is forecasting China’s iron ore imports this month hitting 92 million tonnes, and Rennie said: “anything much above 97 mt would point to continued ‘insatiable’ demand in the face of limited ‘core’ supply”.

Iron ore stockpiles at Chinese ports had jumped to 118.95 million tonnes as of Sept. 11, the highest level since April 10, SteelHome consultancy data showed. SH-TOT-IRONINV

“Given the sheer size of continued Chinese iron ore imports, and the very limited rise in port inventory, we would simply downplay any signals there,” Rennie said.

Benchmark 62% iron ore's spot price stood at $125.50 a tonne on Friday, SteelHome data showed. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 0.4%, while hot-rolled coil added 0.7% and stainless steel climbed 1.6%.

Coking coal rose 1.2% and coke advanced 1.3%.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Rashmi Aich