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Iron ore flat as physical, swaps markets slow with China away

SINGAPORE, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Spot iron ore prices steadied on Tuesday amid a dearth of bids and offers in both physical and forward swaps markets, silenced by a week-long public holiday in top iron ore importer China.

Prices are likely to bounce back when the Chinese return next week after the Oct 1-5 National Day break and replenish their stockpiles of the steelmaking raw material, although sluggish Chinese steel demand would keep any gains in check, traders said.

Benchmark iron ore with 62 percent iron content

was unchanged at $104.20 a tonne on Monday, according to data provider Steel Index.

"More than 50 percent of mills, traders and banks think iron ore prices will rise when the Chinese return next week," said a Singapore-based trader.

"Mills have to restock after the long holiday, but the question is how long the restocking can last," he said, adding that the move could send iron ore prices to between $110 and $115, levels last seen in August.

Iron ore hit a three-year low of $86.70 last month as China's economic slowdown curbed its demand for raw materials. Prices have since recovered to stand above $100, but have struggled to push higher in the face of poor steel demand in the world's biggest consumer. Iron ore indexes Last Change Pct Change PLATTS 62 PCT INDEX 106.5 +0.00 +0.00 THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX 104.2 +0.00 +0.00 METAL BULLETIN INDEX 106.46 +0.00 +0.00

Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.;Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

((manolo.serapio@thomsonreuters.com)(+65 6870 3884)(Reuters Messaging: manolo.serapio.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: MARKETS IRONORE/