COKING COAL DAILY: Premium fob price slips on weak demand outside China

The seaborne premium hard coking coal fob market was quiet on Friday March 12 in the absence of buyers in the ex-China market.

Fastmarkets indices
Premium hard coking coal, fob DBCT: $117.57 per tonne, down $1.06 per tonne
Premium hard coking coal, cfr Jingtang: $212.43 per tonne, unchanged
Hard coking coal, fob DBCT: $108.78 per tonne, unchanged
Hard coking coal, cfr Jingtang: $195.67 per tonne, unchanged

There were few bids and offers heard in the fob market on Friday. The offer price for Australian premium low-volatility hard coking coal inched lower compared with the previous trading price of $119 per tonne, but buyers stayed out of the market.

Buying interest from India was weak, market sources from India said.

“Most large steel mills rely on long-term contracts and mid- and small-sized end users are well stocked for now,” a coke producer there said.

“Most end users have stocks [to sustain production] until May or June as they booked cargoes when [seaborne premium hard coking coal fob] prices were at $100-105 per tonne [in early January],” an India-based trader said.

Buyers in Malaysia maintained a wait-and-see attitude this week due to the high freight cost from Australia to local ports. They normally take handy-size cargoes based on regular production and port facility limitation, market sources said.

In China, several traders who held cargoes of North American coking coal were also cautious of giving offers today due to what they described as weak buying interest from Chinese steel mills this week.

“If someone comes to us with a bid or firm buying interest, we can negotiate to reach a deal; but we are not currently giving offers,” a trader source from Shanghai said.

A mill source from northeast China said that the falling Chinese domestic coke and coking coal prices are normal corrections from a previous high level before the Lunar New Year holiday, and they too are currently they only buying domestic coking coal on a demand basis.

“Seaborne cargoes [of coking coal] are expensive and we didn’t use much coking coal from America and Canada previously,” a mills source from northeast China added.

Market sources reported that mills in north and east China have proposed a fourth domestic coke price cut by another 100 yuan ($15) per tonne effective from March 12.

Some market participants expected domestic coke and coking coal prices to stay relatively stable in late March or April after several rounds of price cuts.

“The upward steel prices may support the raw material prices to some degree, such as coking coal and coke,” a trader source from northern China said.

Fastmarkets’ prices assessment for hard coking coal domestic China spot market, Shanxi-origin, delivered Tangshan was 1,320-1,725 yuan per tonne on March 8, down by 155-115 yuan per tonne from a two-year high of 1,475-1,840 yuan per tonne on January 25.

Dalian Commodity Exchange
The most-traded May coking coal futures contract closed at 1,505 yuan ($231.67) per tonne on Friday, down by 38.5 yuan per tonne.

The most-traded May coke contract closed at 2,244 yuan per tonne, down by 109.5 yuan per tonne.

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