Chinese coking coal producers expected to lower prices amid weak demand

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market was quiet amid escalated downward pressure on Monday March 3 as data from China affected sentiment.

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China’s steel purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 39.9 points for February, its lowest level since September 2012. This compared with January’s steel PMI of 40.7 points, according to data released by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing over the weekend.

“Customers have little ability to take cargoes now. Some coking plants in Hebei province are even running at below 50% capacity,” a trading source in Dalian told Steel First.

Despite bearish sentiment, premium hard coking coal indices edged slightly higher on Monday.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated on Monday at $134.44 per tonne, up by $0.28 from levels seen on Friday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port dropped by $0.03 on the day, falling to $124.02 per tonne.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $123.20 per tonne, up by $0.05 from the previous day. The fob value dropped by $0.85 to $112.44 per tonne.

Yanzhou Coal has lowered its coking coal prices by 30 yuan ($5) per tonne. Shanxi Coking Coal is also expected to lower its March prices.

However, Rizhao Steel has cut its grade-II coke purchasing price by another 20 yuan ($3), to 1,180 yuan ($192) per tonne delivered to mill.

A total of 4.85 million tonnes of coking coal was reported to be sitting at Jingtang port on Monday, down from 5.23 million tonnes a week earlier. Rizhao port has 2.1 million tonnes, up slightly from the 2.09 tonnes recorded a week ago.

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 907 yuan ($148) per tonne on Monday, down from Friday’s close of 915 yuan ($149) per tonne.

The most-traded May coke contract on the same exchange closed at 1,258 yuan ($205) per tonne, also down from the previous close of 1,273 yuan ($208) per tonne.

The yuan prices are the equivalent of cfr prices plus 17% VAT and port charges of about 35 yuan ($6).

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