* Mills seen booking cargoes; output curbs to end in March
* Dalian iron ore futures heading for 17 pct annual gain
SHANGHAI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures jumped more than 3 percent on Friday as investors bet that steel mills in the world’s top buyer of the ore will restock the raw material ahead of an expected end in March to steel production curbs imposed to cut pollution.
The surge on the final trading day of the year meant the futures were heading for an annual jump of around 17 percent.
Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 3.2 percent to 534 yuan a tonne by Friday’s midday break.
Chinese steel mills in 28 cities were ordered to slash production from mid-November until mid-March to reduce emissions of pollutants as part of Beijing’s determined drive to cut smog. But the mills affected are expected to resume output after the curbs expire.
“Iron ore is rising as there is expectation that steel mills would recover production and they need to make bookings ahead of that,” said Bai Jing, an analyst with Galaxy Futures in Beijing.
In other Dalian commodities, coking coal also rose 2 percent to 1,320 yuan a tonne, while coke gained 0.9 percent to 1,998.5 yuan a tonne.
Stronger raw materials prices have lifted steel futures, even as physical steel prices remained steady and demand slipped.
The most active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 1.3 percent to 3,815 yuan a tonne. Rebar futures was on track to jump about 47 percent for 2017.
Iron ore for delivery to China’s Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB stood unchanged at $72.62 a tonne on Thursday from a day ago, according to Metal Bulletin.
Reporting by Ruby Lian in SHANGHAI and Ryan Woo in BEIJING; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell