January 4, 2019 / 8:03 AM / in 4 months

UPDATE 1-China iron ore futures hit over 2-month peak on restocking hopes

* Iron ore jumps 3.3 pct, rebar up 1.9 pct

* Steel mills seen rebuilding thin ore stocks

* China to hold trade talks with the United States on Jan 7-8 (Updates with closing prices)

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Chinese steel futures rose on Friday, with iron ore contracts hitting the highest in more than two months, buoyed by expectations that steel mills would replenish their stocks of the raw material.

Prices also clawed back some lost ground as market sentiment improved following news that China and the United States will hold another round of trade talks next week as they look to end a dispute that is inflicting increasing pain on both economies. [nL3N1Z41CG

Concerns about China’s faltering economic growth amid its trade war with the United States, which stoked fears of a global slowdown, triggered a sell-off on the first trading day of the year on Wednesday.

The most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended up 3.3 percent at 511 yuan ($74.43) a tonne, just below the day’s peak of 512 yuan, its highest since Oct. 30 when it had hit 514 yuan.

“Our data analytics model shows low iron ore inventory at steel mills’ warehouses. So, they are looking to replenish,” said Darren Toh, a data scientist with Singapore-based steel and iron ore data analytics company Tivlon Technologies.

“We are seeing more relaxation in using iron ore in Q1 2019,” he said, with the government’s anti-pollution restrictions that prompted output curbs at steel mills in recent weeks to be eased after this month.

Prices of other steel-making raw materials also rose, with coking coal climbing 1.9 percent to 1,185.5 yuan a tonne and coke higher by 1.6 percent at 1,941 yuan.

The most-active construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 1.9 percent to 3,486 yuan a tonne, posting its fourth weekly gain in five weeks.

Hot rolled coil was up 1.1 percent at 3,363 yuan.

Spot iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 rose 0.6 percent to $73 a tonne on Thursday, according to SteelHome consultancy.

($1 = 6.8651 yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Shreejay Sinha and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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