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Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis edged up by $0.19 to $136.93 per tonne.

Premium hard coking coal index prices fob Australia’s DBCT port were unchanged from levels seen on Wednesday, at $127.70 per tonne.

The price for hard coking coal stood at $125.17 per tonne cfr Jingtang, falling by $0.25 on the day.

The index price for hard coking coal fob Australia was also unchanged at $115.86 per tonne.

High inventory levels, weak demand and low domestic coal prices were repeatedly cited by market sources as factors hampering buying interest.

Hebei Iron & Steel Group and Kunming Steel both lowered their purchasing prices for coke by 50 yuan ($8) per tonne, while Hebei Jinxi made a cut of 30 yuan ($5) per tonne.

Earlier this month, Rizhao Steel cut its coke purchasing prices by a total of 90 yuan ($15) per tonne.

Chinese domestic coking coal prices are widely expected to see another round of cuts in March.

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 921 yuan ($151) per tonne on Thursday, down from 927 yuan ($152) per tonne on Wednesday.

The most-traded May coke contract on the same exchange closed 4 yuan ($0.66) per tonne lower for the day at 1,320 yuan ($216) per tonne.

China’s daily crude steel output during the last eleven days of January stood at 1.964 million tonnes, down by 2.1% from mid-January, according to estimates released by the China Iron & Steel Assn (Cisa) on Thursday.

Cisa member mills’ combined inventory of finished steel totalled 13.605 million tonnes on January 31, up by 4.3% from January 20 levels, and up by 16.6% from the beginning of the year.