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UPDATE 1-China iron ore futures surge as mills restock raw materials

* Sept iron ore futures up as much as 3.8%

* Spot 62% iron ore rises to $83.5 per tonne

* Steel inventories held by traders down 4.6% this week (Recasts, updates with closing prices)

BEIJING, April 9 (Reuters) - Iron ore futures in China jumped on Thursday on restocking demand as steel inventories dropped again this week, while a recovery in profits at mills further lifted purchases of the steelmaking ingredient.

The most-traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for September delivery, closed up 3.3% at 598 yuan ($84.64) per tonne. It surged 3.8% earlier in the day.

The May futures contract, meanwhile, gained as much as 3.9% to 668 yuan per tonne, the most in two weeks.

The rise in the September contract came as the backwardation in prices narrowed on recovering profits at steel mills, according to Zhuo Guiqiu, an analyst with Jinrui Futures.

The rebar profit margin in north China touched 500 yuan per tonne, as of April 8, compared with a plunge to as low as 34 yuan per tonne last month, according to Jinrui Futures.

“The price for the May contract jumped closer to the spot price as it’s due for delivery soon,” said Zhuo, noting the spot price of iron ore at around 674 yuan per tonne.

Furthermore, another weekly drop in steel inventories held by traders also fuelled demand for steel products and raw materials.

Steel stocks in China fell 4.6% on the week to 22.4 million tonnes as of Thursday, data compiled by Mysteel consultancy showed.

The most active construction rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, for Oct delivery, surged as much as 2.9% to 3,322 yuan per tonne, before ending up 2.5% at 3,306 yuan.

Hot-rolled coil, used in cars and home appliances, rose 1.9% to 3,149 yuan per tonne.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Dalian coking coal rose 0.8% to 1,231 yuan a tonne and Dalian coke edged up 0.9% to 1,775 yuan a tonne.

* Shanghai stainless steel, for June delivery, rose 1.3% to 12,295 yuan a tonne.

* Prices for spot cargoes of benchmark iron ore with 62% iron content for delivery to China rose to $83.5 a tonne on Wednesday.

* Fitch Ratings expects China’s full-year growth to dip below 2% in 2020 from 6.1% in 2019.

* China’s commerce ministry said the country’s imports and exports in March improved.

* China will help improve access to credit for small- and medium-sized firms as well as private companies hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state council’s financial stability committee said after a meeting chaired by Vice Premier Liu He.

* Global miner Rio Tinto will go ahead with its $3.7 billion dividend payment this month, its chairman told shareholders on Wednesday, as a weaker global economy forces some of its peers to forgo payouts.

* More than 1.47 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 87,760 have died, according to a Reuters tally. ($1 = 7.0653 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Min Zhang and Shiavni Singh, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jacqueline Wong)

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