* Iron ore stocks at China ports rise to 138.48 mln tonnes
* Shanghai rebar also weaker, but coking coal up
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures ticked lower on Monday as stockpiles at the country’s ports climbed to their highest level since August, underlining weak demand in the world’s top consumer as mills curb production.
China has ordered steel mills across its northern areas to reduce output during winter to fight smog.
The most-traded iron ore contract for January delivery on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was off 0.1 percent at 464 yuan ($70) a tonne, by 0210 GMT.
Inventory of imported iron ore at China’s major ports reached 138.48 million tonnes as of Friday, the most since Aug. 4, according to data compiled by SteelHome consultancy. SH-TOT-IRONINV
China’s iron ore imports dropped nearly 23 percent in October from a record level the previous month as mills braced for the production cuts. But China’s own iron ore output last month rose 3.9 percent from a year ago.
Against weakening demand from steel mills, the increase in China’s iron ore production “will only lead to less import appetite, weighing down on seaborne prices,” Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau said in a note.
“We remain bearish on iron ore prices.”
The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slipped 0.3 percent to 3,647 yuan a tonne.
But coal futures advanced. Coking coal rose 1.9 percent to 1,199 yuan per tonne, and coke gained 1.1 percent to 1,853 yuan.
$1 = 6.6307 Chinese yuan Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips