Seaborne coking coal prices firm despite Chinese market weakness

Expectations of cuts in the Chinese domestic coking coal price kept the seaborne coking coal market fairly quiet on Tuesday April 1.

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While no news of Shanxi Coking Coal’s price cuts had been heard at the time of writing, some participants were expecting a cut of about 40 yuan ($6.50) per tonne.

Despite the rumoured drop in prices, seaborne spot coking coal values showed a slight increase across the board.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $121.02 per tonne on Tuesday, up by $0.38 from prices seen on Monday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was $110.69, up by $0.1.51 from Monday.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $110.92 per tonne on Monday, up by $0.37 per tonne. The fob value was $99.38 per tonne, up by $0.80 per tonne.

Some relatively positive market signals were offered by a small pick-up in billet prices and comparatively encouraging economic data.

The price of Tangshan billet rose by another 10 yuan ($1.62) on Tuesday to 2,920 yuan ($473) per tonne ex-works, inclusive of VAT. This compared with 2,880 yuan ($467) per tonne last Friday.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s steel industry rebounded for the first time in three months to 44.2 points for March, according to data released by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing on Tuesday. This compared with February’s reading of 39.9 points.

The country’s official PMI for the manufacturing sector stood at 50.3 points in March, up from 50.2 points in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics said on the same day.

But buying interest in China for forward cargoes remained low as inventories are high and prices offered at ports are competitive, market sources told Steel First.

Several miners, on the other hand, were heard to be holding off their cargoes in anticipation of a price recovery.

Elsewhere, customers in Europe and Japan have made some enquiries on spot cargoes, seeking to take advantage of current low prices, a trading source told Steel First.

The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 834 yuan ($135) per tonne on Tuesday, down by 2 yuan ($0.32) from Monday’s close.

The most-traded September coke contract closed at 1,225 yuan ($198) per tonne, up by 5 yuan ($0.81) compared with the previous close.

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