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MANILA: Iron ore futures in China surged on Tuesday amid strong demand and lingering concerns about supply, while steel prices rose for the first time in six sessions.

The most active September iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed 4.1% higher at 880.5 yuan  ($128) a tonne. It climbed 6.3% to 899.5 yuan earlier in the day, approaching its record intraday peak of 911.5 yuan hit on July 3.

S&P Global Ratings has raised its price forecasts for the steelmaking raw material for this year and the next two, saying it expected a prolonged hit to supply stemming from the Vale SA  tailings dam disaster in Brazil in January.

It also took into account slowing Chinese economic growth and incremental supply returning to the seaborne market.

S&P revised its price assumptions to $90 a tonne for the remainder of 2019 from $75, $80 in 2020 from $70, and $70 in 2021 from $65.

"In our view, it could take Vale up to three years to restore production back to 2018 levels," S&P said. "Robust demand from China's steelmaking industry is also underpinning the increase in prices."

Global supply of iron ore is forecast to run short in the wake of mine shutdowns by Vale for safety checks following the dam failure.

"Although (the) supply backdrop has been improving, production losses are keeping the market undersupplied," ANZ said in a note, estimating the shortage earlier at 45 million tonnes for this year and 33 million tonnes for 2020.

Dalian iron ore plummeted on Friday after leading Chinese steel makers called for an investigation into the recent surge in prices.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most-active October construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gained 1% to 4,042 yuan a tonne.

* Hot rolled coil, steel used in cars and home appliances, jumped 1.1% to 3,910 yuan a tonne.

* China's top steelmaking province of Hebei has moved up the target dates for cutting industrial capacity and relocating plants by two months to the end of October, the provincial environmental department has said.

* Spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China <SH-CCN-IRNOR62> was steady at $117.50 a tonne on Monday, near a more than five-year high of $126.50 hit on July 3, according to data tracked by SteelHome consultancy.

"We expect spot prices to wane in the second half of 2019 on the back of improved production from each of the majors, including Vale, which has since gained approval to resume operations at its Brucutu mine," S&P said.

* Iron ore stocked at China's ports rose for the first time in three months to 115.6 million tonnes as of July 5, the latest weekly SteelHome data showed <SH-TOT-IRONINV>. Port inventory had fallen steadily since April to 115.25 million tonnes as of June 28, the lowest since early 2017.

* Other steelmaking materials traded mixed, with Dalian coking coal up 0.9% at 1,384 yuan a tonne, while coke slipped 0.4% to 2,119 yuan.

Copyright Reuters, 2019