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“Several big traders have booked many seaborne cargoes recently, in anticipation of higher prices,” a steel mill source told Steel First.

“Traders which have cargoes to be delivered or at the ports are unwilling to sell now,” a trading source in Shanghai said.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $123.45 per tonne on Tuesday, down by $0.93 from levels seen on Monday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was calculated at $112.29 per tonne, up by $0.40 per tonne.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $113.40 per tonne on Tuesday, up by $0.05 per tonne. The fob value was $99.61 per tonne, down by $1.15 on the day.

Sources said that some traders were holding on to their cargoes as they do not have any immediate loans to service.

Most market participants have, however, suspended their business due to the uncertain outlook.

“I haven’t booked any imports in the past few months. Metallurgical coal stockpiles at Jingtang port are high at 4.5-5 million tonnes. Coke producers and steelmakers can easily buy imported material from the port at cheaper prices and in smaller quantities,” a trader in Dalian said.

“Imported coking coal in China can only supplement domestic supply. So it is the domestic coal prices that will determine the movement of prices of imported materials,” a third trader in Shandong province said.

The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 898 yuan ($145) per tonne, up by 17 yuan ($3) per tonne compared with Monday’s close of 881 yuan ($143) per tonne.

The most-traded September coke contract closed at 1,270 yuan ($206) per tonne, up by 16 yuan ($3) from Monday’s close of 1,254 yuan ($203) per tonne.

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

[The premium hard coking coal index on an fob Australia DBCT port basis was amended on Wednesday April 16 to reflect the correct value.]