Bid-offer gap in Asian seaborne coking coal market widens to $7

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market remained quiet on Tuesday March 4, with the gap between bids and offers widening further and domestic coking coal prices in China continuing to slide.

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Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $134.05 per tonne on Tuesday, down by $0.39 from levels seen on Monday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port dropped by $0.84 on the day, falling to $123.18 per tonne.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $123.24 per tonne, up by $0.04 from the previous day. The fob value was unchanged at $112.44 per tonne.

Many traders and steel mills have suspended their bookings of imported coking coal amid the slack steel market and falling domestic coking coal prices.

The market was extremely quiet on Tuesday, with few deals reported.

“The gap between offers and bids is as much as $7 per tonne now,” a trader in Shanghai said.

“We bought Australian PCI two weeks ago, but didn’t book anything after that,” a trader in Singapore said.

Hard coking coal prices in Shanxi province dropped by 70 yuan ($11) per tonne on Tuesday to 950 yuan ($155) per tonne, inclusive of VAT, an industry analyst in Beijing said.

Shanxi Coking Coal has also lowered its list prices by 40-50 yuan ($7-8) per tonne for March.

Imported coking coal prices at Chinese ports also slipped, with hard coking coal at Rizhao falling by 30 yuan ($5) per tonne to 900-930 yuan ($147-152) per tonne.

Many market participants expected imported coking coal prices to continue to fall in the next few weeks, while some expected them to hit a support level soon. This came as current prices to China were leaving little margin for miners.

“Miners are reluctant to lower offers further, and they are able to sell cargoes to Europe and other North Asian countries, thanks to growing demand from those regions,” the trader in Shanghai said.

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 892 yuan ($146) per tonne on Tuesday, down from Monday’s close of 907 yuan ($148) per tonne.

The most-traded September coke contract on the same exchange closed at 1,238 yuan ($202) per tonne, also down from the previous close of 1,258 yuan ($205) per tonne.

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

In related news, international commodity house Glencore said on Tuesday that it sold 4.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal last year, up by 15% from 2012, while coke sales trebled over the same period to 600,000 tonnes.

Higher sales volumes were offset by lower realised costs for the product, with average Australian coking coal export prices dropping by 25% in 2013 from levels seen in 2012.

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