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Iron ore in China headed for 9th weekly rise on steel strength

[MANILA] China's iron ore futures rose on Friday and were on course to extend their winning streak to a ninth straight week, backed by firm steel consumption in the world's top user.

China's infrastructure push, spurred by its public-private partnership (PPP) projects to lure private investment in infrastructure and public utility projects, has boosted steel demand this year, fattening margins at construction steel producers to the biggest in years.

The most-active iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.5 per cent at 586.50 yuan (S$119.929) a tonne by 0240 GMT.

The contract earlier hit 601 yuan - near Tuesday's five-month peak of 609.50 yuan - and has gained nearly 5 per cent this week.

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The most-traded rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up three per cent at 3,941 yuan per tonne. The construction steel product has risen for a fourth week in five.

There's a possibility that steel demand from China's infrastructure sector could improve further, said CLSA analyst Daniel Meng in Hong Kong.

"We have seen an acceleration in orders from leading infrastructure companies for PPP projects," he said.

As steel consumption in China heads to the peak season from September onwards, prices and margins at producers should "remain very well supported," said Mr Meng.

There's a potential rebar could hit 5,000 yuan a tonne if China goes ahead with a plan to curb output in key steel producing areas like Hebei province during winter, he added.

That should continue to support iron ore prices, with the spot benchmark closing in on US$80 a tonne this week, a level last seen in April.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB slipped 0.8 percent to US$77.16 a tonne on Thursday, according to Metal Bulletin.

The spot price, which touched a 4-1/2-month high of US$79.81 on Monday, has lost one per cent so far this week.