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Steel First's premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $120.64 per tonne on Friday, down by $0.57 from prices seen on Thursday.
The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia's DBCT port was $110.13, down by $1.13 from Thursday.
The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $110.63 per tonne on Friday, up by $0.12 per tonne. The fob value was $100.59 per tonne, unchanged from Thursday.
Offers for May-laycan premium materials are generally $4-5 per tonne higher than levels end users are prepared to buy at, while even fewer offers for second-tier hard coking coals were heard, according to sources.
“Chinese domestic coking coal has become more competitive after a few rounds of recent price cuts. We also heard there may be more reductions in April, so it’s still risky to book seaborne materials now,” a mill source told Steel First.
“Plus, we don’t have urgent demand. Why should we take the risk, unless the prices are really competitive?” the source added.
However, some participants believe the market is close to bottoming out as they pointed to firmer billet prices over the past week and potentially tighter supply from Australian miners.
The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 842 yuan ($137) per tonne on Friday, up from the previous close of 821 yuan ($133) per tonne, and also up 4.6% from last Friday’s close.
The most-traded September coke contract also closed higher at 1,223 yuan ($198) per tonne, compared with Thursday’s close of 1,202 yuan ($195) per tonne, and up 4.8% week-on-week.
The yuan prices are the equivalent of cfr prices plus 17% VAT and port charges of about 35 yuan ($6) per tonne.
The second quarter 2014 benchmark coking coal term contract price was settled between Anglo American and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metals Corp at $120 per tonne fob Australia, down $23 per tonne from the first quarter settlement price.
Elsewhere, Glencore Xstrata said, on Thursday March 27, that it plans to close its Ravensworth underground coking coal mine due to difficult economic conditions.
The semi-soft coking coal mine will be placed on care and maintenance in September.
The Asian spot coking coal market remained quiet after Anglo American settled the second quarter 2014 contract coking coal benchmark price $23 below prices agreed in the first quarter of the year.