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Market sentiment, however, remains bearish with most participants adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Steel First's Premium Hard Coking Coal Index was calculated at $138.44 per tonne cfr Jingtang on Friday, down from $139.18 per tonne cfr a day earlier.

Premium hard coking coal prices on an fob DBCT Australia basis was calculated at $128.59 per tonne, down slightly from $128.89 per tonne on Thursday.

The price for hard coking coal sold on a cfr Jingtang basis stood at $127.13 per tonne, down from $127.40 per tonne the previous day. The fob Australia index for the material stood at $116.19 per tonne, up from $115.05 per tonne on Thursday.

Chinese domestic coal producers including Shanxi Coking Coal, Lu’An Group, and Yankuang Group have all lowered prices for their metallurgical coal products by 30-50 yuan ($5-8) per tonne.

While several coking plants in Hebei Province have cut their purchasing prices for coking coal by about 40 yuan ($7) per tonne, Rizhao Steel was heard to have lowered its purchasing price for coke by 60 yuan ($10) per tonne.

The most-traded coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 911 yuan ($149) per tonne on Friday, down from the previous close of 928 yuan ($152) per tonne on Thursday January 30. The most-traded coke contract on the same exchange closed at 1,327 yuan ($217) per tonne, also down from the previous close of 1,350 yuan ($221) per tonne.

Separately, the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) was heard to have offered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp a March price of $136 per tonne fob Australia for its Peak Downs and Saraji products. The Japanese mill was said to have put in its bid at $135 per tonne fob.

The BMA has also decided to cut around 230 jobs at the Saraji mine, saying its “workforce numbers were greater than required to efficiently operate the mine”.