* Hebei province says tops annual steel capacity cut target
* Expectations of rising iron ore demand after curbs also support
* Shanghai rebar hits highest in 1-1/2 weeks
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures climbed to their strongest level in almost two weeks on Monday, tracking firmer steel prices after China’s top steel producing province surpassed its capacity reduction targets for the year.
Expectations that demand for the steelmaking raw material would pick up after China’s steel production curbs over winter also underpinned prices.
Hebei province has slashed 25.55 million tonnes of its steelmaking capacity so far this year, ahead of its annual target, the official Xinhua News agency reported on Friday.
To further curb pollution during winter, which lasts from November through March, Hebei would also limit steel and iron output by 50 percent in major producing cities including Tangshan, Handan and Shijiazhuang, Xinhua reported.
The measures are in line with China’s output restrictions for industrial plants including steelmakers, helping tighten supply. The most-traded rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose as far as 3,750 yuan ($566) a tonne, its loftiest since Oct. 26. It was up 1.7 percent at 3,742 yuan by 0212 GMT.
Steel’s gains helped push up prices of raw materials iron ore and coking coal.
Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was last up 3.6 percent at 457 yuan per tonne after earlier peaking at 458 yuan, the highest since Oct. 25. Coking coal touched a two-week high of 1,164 yuan.
While the recent curbs on steel production in China have weighed on spot iron ore price, ANZ commodity strategist Daniel Hynes said “the market is getting increasingly bullish about demand in 2018.”
“With expectations of underlying demand to remain strong, this should see pent up demand hit the market when the curbs end,” Hynes said in a note.
Iron ore for delivery to China’s Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB stood at $59.88 a tonne on Friday, up 0.2 percent from Thursday, according to Metal Bulletin. The spot benchmark hit $58.52 on Oct. 31, the lowest in more than four months. ($1 = 6.6318 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Sunil Nair)