* Nov iron ore imports up 12 pct y/y, nearly 14 pct m/m
* Imports of steel products climb 2.8 pct m/m
* Steel product exports rise 5.5 pct from Oct (Updates with analyst comment in paragraphs 3-6)
BEIJING, Dec 8 (Reuters) - China imported 91.98 million tonnes of iron ore in November, up 13.8 percent from the previous month and reaching one of the highest volumes on record, official data from the country’s customs authority showed on Thursday.
The total was an increase of 12 percent from 80.8 million tonnes in November last year and was the third highest month on record, behind September’s total of 93 million tonnes and the all-time high of 96.26 million tonnes set in December 2015.
The jump was unexpected as steel mills have slowed output ahead of the winter months, when demand for rebar for use in construction typically slows.
Steel mills in the world’s top steelmaking country have also curbed output as surging costs of raw materials like coking coal and iron ore have eroded profits.
“I think (the rise) just reflects some adjustments in terms of arrivals after the holidays in October when some shipments may have been postponed,” said Helen Lau, analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.
“Otherwise there’s no reason for a big rebound in iron ore imports,” she said.
Imports of iron ore hit 935 million tonnes in January-November, setting it up to top 1 billion tonnes this year and surpass the 2015 record of 952.84 million tonnes.
Imports of steel products rose 2.8 percent from the month before to 1.11 million tonnes, while exports climbed 5.5 percent to 8.12 million tonnes.
For more details, click on (Reporting by Josephine Mason in BEIJING and Manolo Serapio in MANILA; Editing by Joseph Radford and Tom Hogue)