Seaborne coking coal buyers cautious, premium indices edge down within range

The seaborne hard coking coal market edged lower within established ranges on Tuesday December 17, as weak demand kept most participants on the sidelines.

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Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis dropped to $148.33 per tonne on December 17, down $0.49 per tonne from Monday.

Premium hard coking coal prices on an fob DBCT Australia basis were calculated at $136.45 per tonne, unchanged from Monday.

The price for hard coking coal cfr Jingtang stood at $136.53 per tonne on Tuesday, down $0.75 per tonne from Monday’s levels.

Hard coking coal fob DBCT was $124.31 per tonne, also unchanged from Monday.

“I think only bigger mills or coking plants are able to buy at the moment. Smaller producers and traders have been very cautious in taking cargoes,” a Beijing-based trader told Steel First.

“The market has not changed much, and I don’t think it’s going to move materially in the short term,” a mill source said.

Ample supply continued to suppress prices, and market participants speaking to Steel First still assessed top Australian brands at or below $150 per tonne cfr China.

Port sales remained limited, with some sources predicting further falls in port prices after more cargoes arrived on Chinese shores.

European mills expect BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) to settle January contract prices with customers at levels around $140-143 fob, although no definite levels have been confirmed.

The most-traded May coking coal contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 1,076 yuan per tonne on Tuesday, down 2 yuan ($0.33) from Monday’s close.

The most-traded May coke contract on the exchange closed at 1,558 yuan ($255) per tonne, up 1 yuan ($0.16) from the previous close.