March 27, 2018 / 3:00 AM / a year ago

China's steel, iron ore bounce as trade war fears ease

* Steel, iron ore futures eye biggest gains in 4 weeks

* Trade war fears ease on report of U.S.-China talks

* Rebar inventory falls for first time since early Dec

BEIJING, March 27 (Reuters) - Chinese steel futures rose on Tuesday from near nine-month lows as concerns about a potential trade war between China and the United States eased.

Shanghai rebar steel futures rose 1.7 percent to 3,420 yuan ($546.69) a tonne by 0241 GMT, on track for the biggest one-day gain since late February. The contract fell to 3,333 yuan a tonne on Monday, the weakest since July 2017.

The rebound came on news of U.S.-China negotiations, with White House officials asking China to cut tariffs on imported cars, allow foreign majority ownership of financial services firms and buy more U.S.-made semiconductors, said a person familiar with the discussions.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday pledged to maintain trade negotiations and ease access to American businesses.

“The worst moment brought by fears of the trade war may have ended and the market is re-establishing confidence,” said Xu Bo, analyst at Haitong Futures.

Prices of steel raw materials also rebounded on Tuesday. The most-traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange jumped 1.7 percent to 446 yuan a tonne. It is also on course of its best performance in 4 weeks.

The coking coal contract for May delivery rose 1.5 percent to 1,260.5 yuan a tonne, while coke futures edged up 0.1 percent to 1,855.5 yuan a tonne.

“Price recovery is also being buoyed by expectations of increasing demand at downstream users and improving utilisation rates at steel mills,” said Xu.

Stockpiles of construction steel rebar last week fell for the first time since the beginning of December, declining by 293,500 tonnes to 9.49 million tonnes as of March 23 from a week earlier, data compiled by SteelHome consultancy showed. SH-TOT-RBARINV

The utilisation rate at steel mill blast furnaces across China climbed by 1.1 percentage points to 63.12 percent last week from the prior week, bouncing to the level before the annual national parliamentary meeting in early March, data from the Mysteel consultancy showed.

However, mills in northern China remain under production curbs, with more than 34 cities blanketed by a bout of smog that is expected to lift by Wednesday.

Spot steel rebar prices fell 1.9 percent to 4,000.13 yuan a tonne on Monday, according to data at Mysteel website.

Iron ore for delivery to China’s Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB dropped $0.25 a tonne to $64.33/tonne on Monday, according to Metal Bulletin.

$1 = 6.2558 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin

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