Bearish sentiment grips Asian seaborne coking coal market

The seaborne hard coking coal spot market was mostly quiet on Friday January 17 as buyers sat on the sidelines in anticipation of stronger cues.

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Weak demand and tight credit conditions continued to be cited by market participants as factors hampering trading activity. Bearish sentiment has also held back buying interest.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis edged down to $142.85 per tonne on Friday, a fall of $0.28 per tonne compared with Thursday.

Premium hard coking coal index prices fob Australia’s DBCT port were unchanged at $130.35 per tonne.

The price for hard coking coal stood at $131.62 per tonne cfr Jingtang on Friday, down by $0.51 from Wednesday.

Hard coking coal prices fob Australia were also unchanged, holding steady at $120.33 per tonne.

“I’m not going into the market until this downward trend ends. It’s difficult to say when the market will see a rebound and I’d rather go in when it’s upward-moving,” a trading source told Steel First.

“Yes, I’d probably end up paying more, but I don’t want to take risks in betting on when the market will bottom out,” he added.

The most-traded May coking coal contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 963 yuan ($158) per tonne on Friday, down by 5 yuan ($1) from Thursday’s close and down by 2.1% from levels seen a week ago.

The most-traded May coke contract closed at 1,375 yuan ($226) per tonne, down by 9 yuan ($2) from the previous day and down by 0.5% from last Friday.

Separately, China’s daily crude steel output went up early this month. According to China Iron & Steel Assn, the country produced 1.997 million tpd of crude steel during the first ten days of January, compared with 1.96 million tpd seen during the last eleven days of December.

A European mill told Steel First that it had concluded February coking coal contract settlements at levels several dollars below Anglo American’s first-quarter 2014 benchmark settlement with Japanese mills of $143 per tonne fob for German Creek material.