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UPDATE 1-Iron ore leaps as Port Hedland shipments to China hit 2-year low

* DCE iron ore leaps 5.6% in daytime session after 2-day fall

* SGX iron ore recoups early losses, heads for 2nd day of gains

* Port Hedland Feb iron ore shipments to China hit 30.7 mln T (Updates prices, adds graphic)

March 11 (Reuters) - Benchmark Asian iron ore futures rebounded off four-week lows on Thursday as data showed monthly shipments of the steelmaking ingredient to China from Australia’s Port Hedland dropped to a two-year trough.

The most-traded May iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange leapt 5.6% to 1,093.50 yuan ($168.34) a tonne by 0700 GMT, after earlier climbing to 1,095 yuan.

Iron ore’s front-month contract on the Singapore Exchange jumped 3.5% to $164.20 a tonne, recovering from early losses.

Shipments from Port Hedland, the world’s biggest iron ore export hub, to China totalled 30.73 million tonnes in February, when the world’s top steel producer typically imports less due to the Lunar New Year holidays.

That was the lowest since March 2019 and compared with 35.6 million tonnes in January and 33.3 million tonnes in February last year, data from Australia’s Pilbara Ports Authority showed.

Port Hedland is used by three of Australia’s top four iron ore miners -- BHP Group, Fortescue Metals Group and Hancock Prospecting.

The Port Hedland data brought supply risks to the fore again, having fuelled a recent rally that drove iron ore to multi-year peaks.

Spot iron ore was steady at $166 a tonne on Wednesday, SteelHome consultancy data showed, after dropping 7.5% from a record high of $179.50 hit last week due to demand concerns.

China’s January-February iron ore imports rose a modest 2.8% from a year earlier.

“Constraints on iron ore supply kept import growth limited,” commodity strategists at ANZ said in a note dated March 8. “Positive steel mill margins and stronger demand for exports should keep China’s iron ore import demand elevated.”

Construction steel rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange reversed early losses to close the daytime session up 2%, while hot-rolled coil rose 2.3%. Stainless steel gained 0.9%.

Dalian coking coal advanced 2.9% and coke climbed 2.3%.

Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Aditya Soni and Subhranshu Sahu

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