October 9, 2018 / 7:47 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Dalian iron ore hits nearly 3-week high on restocking outlook

* Steel mills have restocking demand after holiday break -analysts

* Investors tend to be optimistic about near-term future -trader

* Shanxi province to cut coking capacity, coke output (Updates closing prices, adds Shanxi coking plan)

BEIJING, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures jumped about 3 percent on Tuesday to their highest since mid-September, supported by market expectation of higher replenish demand at steel mills.

The most-active iron ore contract for January delivery closed up 2.7 percent at 509 yuan ($73.53) a tonne after touching 512 yuan, its highest since Sept. 19.

“Steel mills continued to churn out products during the holiday break and they still have restocking demand in the post-holiday period,” analysts at Huatai Futures said in a note.

Weekly utilisation rates of blast furnaces at steel mills across China were at 68.09 percent as of Oct.5, same as in the prior week, according to data compiled by Mysteel consultancy.

China had a week-long National Day holiday between Oct 1 and 7.

Firm spot iron ore prices also offered momentum to the rally in futures. Benchmark ore with 62 percent iron content stayed at $69.9 a tonne, a level last seen around mid-March, according to data from SteelHome.

Prices for lower grade iron ore, with 58 percent and 52 percent iron content, also climbed to multi-month-highs.

“Market is generally optimistic towards the near-term future. Investors are unlikely to change their opinion unless there is firm data showing further slowdown in new construction starts in the property market,” said a Shanghai-based iron ore trader.

September property data will not be released until Oct. 19. Latest official data showed real estate investment moderated in August on slower construction and home sales, with new construction starts measured by floor area growing at a pace of 26.6 percent from a year earlier.

Other steelmaking raw ingredients extended gains into a second session after soaring more than 5 percent in the previous day.

Coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 2.1 percent to 1,333 yuan a tonne, while coke climbed nearly 5 percent to 2,405 yuan a tonne, a level last seen on Sept.11.

China’s Shanxi province, the country’s major coal mining hub, has pledged to cut coking capacity and annual coke output, according to a government statement on Tuesday, in line with a long-term drive to reduce toxic emissions from heavy industry.

This spurred concerns about tight supply of the commodity. Shanxi accounted for 20 percent of the country’s coke output last year.

The most-traded construction steel rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 2.5 percent to 4,039 yuan.

Weekly steel products inventory rose 847,100 tonnes to 10.85 million tonnes as of last Friday from a week earlier, with rebar stocks up 8.6 percent and hot-rolled coil stocks 9.8 percent higher, according to Mysteel data. ($1 = 6.9225 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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