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MANILA: Benchmark Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures jumped to fresh contract highs on Thursday, driven by concerns about supply of the steelmaking raw material from Australia and optimism around demand as steel prices picked up in China.

January iron ore, the benchmark contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, rose as much as 3.6% to 886 yuan ($134.77) a tonne, extending gains into a fourth straight session. It was up 2.5% when trading ended.

Iron ore's most-active December contract on the Singapore Exchange climbed 0.9% to $124.06 a tonne by 0703 GMT, also rising for a fourth day.

Resilient iron ore demand from China, the world's top steel producer, and "signs that the rise in exports from Australia was easing" buoyed market sentiment, said Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at ANZ.

Weekly iron ore shipments to China from top supplier Australia fell to 12 million tonnes last week, the lowest in more than two months, based on ports data available on Refinitiv Eikon.

Spot iron ore prices jumped to $126.50 a tonne on Wednesday, according to SteelHome consultancy, the highest since September 15.

"Strong data from (China's) property sector continues to bolster expectations that margins at steel mills will remain elevated and therefore supportive for iron ore demand," said Wenyu Yao, senior commodities strategist at ING.