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The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market continued to see a stand-off between sellers and buyers on Friday April 4 with few transactions heard.

Sellers are sitting on their cargoes in anticipation of better prices, unwilling to accept bids lower than $120 per tonne cfr China for premium mid-vol materials. A cargo of second-tier materials was heard offered at about $115 per tonne cfr China.

Steel First's premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $122.35 per tonne on Friday, up $0.85 per tonne.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia's DBCT port was $109.81, down $0.93 per tonne from Thursday.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $111.24 per tonne on Friday, up $0.51 per tonne. The fob value was unchanged at $99.38 per tonne.

There were some customers willing to make small increases in their bids because they think the market has reached a bottom and could potentially go up in the near term, sell-side sources told Steel First.

Other buyers, however, said the fundamental demand has not improved materially. Therefore, their indicative bids remained at the low $120s per tonne for top Australian brands and around $110 per tonne for second-tier hard coking coals.

Domestically, Shanxi Coking Coal lowered its April prices by 20-40 yuan ($3-6) per tonne on Friday, in line with most market participant expectations. Some said the price cut this time would not have much impact on sentiment because it was already anticipated.

Two major Chinese coke plants also cut their coke prices by 30 yuan ($5) per tonne on Friday and the outlook remains uncertain.

The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 878 yuan ($142) per tonne on Friday, up from Thursday’s close of 856 yuan ($139) per tonne, and also up 4.3% from last Friday’s close.

The most-traded September coke contract closed at 1,263 yuan ($205) per tonne, up from the previous day’s close of 1,236 yuan ($200) per tonne, and up 3.3% 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.