Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market weak amid uncertain outlook

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market remained weak on Tuesday May 27 as credit conditions in China continued to hamper buying activity for forward cargoes.

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Steel First’s cfr Jingtang premium hard coking coal index was calculated at $123.80 per tonne, up by $0.41 from Monday. The cfr Jingtang hard coking coal index edged up by $0.02 to $113.29 per tonne.

Both fob Australia numbers remained unchanged at $116.86 per tonne for premium materials, and $102.91 per tonne for hard coking coal.

“The overall demand for coking coal is actually quite stable. It’s the demand for imported forward cargoes that has been weaker because the tight credit leaves many buyers with no choice but to opt for domestic supply,” a trading source told Steel First.

The flexible volumes and payment terms for domestic material make it easier for steel mills and coking plants to manage their cash flows. The uncertain outlook also keeps them from booking cargoes with a loading time further down the line.

Deals heard in the market have been few and far between, sources said. The gaps between sellers’ and buyers’ expectations added to the divergence of price opinion.

China’s medium-sized and large steelmakers saw their daily crude steel production go down by 1.29% to 1.8005 million tonnes during the second ten days of May, according to data released by the China Iron & Steel Assn (Cisa) on Tuesday.

On May 20, Cisa member mills’ combined finished steel inventory totalled 14.998 million tonnes, up by 4.9% from May 10 levels.

The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 841 yuan ($136) per tonne on Tuesday, down from Monday’s close of 845 yuan ($137) per tonne.

The most-traded September coke contract closed at 1,190 yuan ($193) per tonne, unchanged for the day.

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

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