Seaborne coking coal prices close to bottom, say traders

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market remained weak on Friday March 21 amid mixed sentiment.

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Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $122.02 per tonne on Friday, up by $0.43 from levels seen on Thursday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was $113.11, up $0.32 from Thursday.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $113.76 per tonne on Friday, unchanged. The fob value was $103.67 per tonne, also unchanged.

A mill source told Steel First that they are looking to purchase as current prices seem fair. However, they are still undecided because while they don’t need to buy large volumes, they could get a better deal for a capesize vessel.

A trading source said room for further price falls is limited as demand for steel products may increase in the near term, given that construction activity in northern China is picking up due to the warmer spring weather.

On the futures market, however, the most-traded September coking coal contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange plunged by its daily limit of 4% on Friday to close at 805 yuan ($131) per tonne.

The most-traded September coke contract closed at 1,167 yuan ($189) per tonne, down from the previous close of 1,194 yuan ($194) per tonne.

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

Some other market participants remained bearish as credit concerns persisted. The depreciating yuan has also hampered some buyers’ ability to import cargoes.

Tradeable levels for premium hard coking coal are in the low $120s per tonne cfr China while those for second-tier hard coking coal are in the low $110s per tonne, according to sources.