Asian seaborne coking coal market edging down amid mixed signals

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market continued to face uncertainties on Tuesday March 25 amid mixed signals.

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Market participants speaking to Steel First generally remained bearish and stayed on the sidelines.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $121.52 per tonne on Tuesday, down by $0.52 from prices seen on Monday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was $110.80, down by $0.23 from Monday.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $110.57per tonne on Tuesday, down by $0.27 per tonne. The fob value was $100.08 per tonne, down by $1.65 from Tuesday.

“We’re terrified at the moment, and haven’t done much these days,” a sell-side trading source said.

While customers have made enquiries, few really intended to buy, several other sources said.

Rizhao Steel and Shougang cut their coke purchasing prices by 30 yuan ($5) per tonne, while Hebei Steel made a cut of 60 yuan ($10) per tonne. Lower coke prices are expected to lead to lower domestic coking coal prices.

The futures market, however, strengthened.

Both the coking coal and coke futures contracts on the Dalian Commodity Exchanged rose by a daily 4% limit to close at 825 yuan ($134) per tonne and 1,216 yuan ($198) per tonne respectively.

These prices compared with their previous closes of 797 yuan ($130) per tonne and 1,183 yuan ($192) per tonne, respectively.

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

Sources considered top Australian brands tradable at the low $120s per tonne cfr China, and second-tier hard coking coal at about $110 per tonne cfr.

Separately, Anglo American was heard to have tabled $120 per tonne fob Australia for the second-quarter benchmark, but it is unclear at the time of publicaton whether Japanese steel mills will agree to it.