Seaborne hard coking coal prices largely static

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market saw buyers making more enquiries on Tuesday February 18.

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Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $136.29 per tonne, down by $0.28 from Monday. The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was unchanged at $126.09 per tonne.

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $124 per tonne, down by $0.30 from the previous day, while the fob value was flat at $113.14 per tonne.

“Many customers are starting to feel that the market is hitting the bottom now since the current prices are at historical lows. However, there are no fundamental factors supporting this,” a trading source in Tianjin city told Steel First.

“Port inventory levels remain high, and so are stockpiles at steel mills and coking plants. Supply also remains ample. The credit situation is not improving either,” he added. “People are afraid that they will miss the bottom but at the same time cautious, as the market could continue to go down.”

Another trading source in Beijing agreed that there were more enquiries but said that no customer was actively putting in bids and making purchases.

“We may be looking to buy something at the end of this month since we still have relatively high inventories and are still bearish about the market. We’d like to wait for a little longer,” a mill source said.

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 937 yuan ($154) per tonne on Tuesday, down by 10 yuan ($2) per tonne from Monday’s close of 947 yuan ($155) per tonne.

The most-traded May coke contract on the exchange also closed lower at 1,336 yuan ($219) per tonne, compared with the previous day’s close of 1,354 yuan ($222) per tonne.

China’s daily crude steel output reached 2.066 million tonnes during the first ten days of February, up by 5.2% from the last eleven days of January, according to estimates released by the China Iron & Steel Assn (Cisa) on Tuesday.

As at February 10, Cisa member mills’ combined inventory of finished steel totalled 16.328 million tonnes, up by a significant 20% from January 31 levels.