Seaborne hard coking coal prices steady-to-soft on low demand

The Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market was largely unchanged on Monday February 17 as mixed signals led participants to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

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Spot prices for coking coal sold out of Australia saw values edge lower.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis edged up by $0.02 to $136.57 per tonne.

Premium hard coking coal index prices fob Australia’s DBCT port fell by $0.10 per tonne on Monday, to $126.09 per tonne.

The price for hard coking coal stood at $125.17 per tonne cfr Jingtang, falling by $0.64 on the day.

The index price for hard coking coal fob Australia fell $1.20 to $113.14 per tonne.

Shanxi Coking Coal was said to be looking at another price cut of 40-60 yuan ($7-10) per tonne, following a 20-50 yuan ($3-8) per tonne decrease earlier this month.

In Tangshan, the price of steel billet rose by 20 yuan ($3) per tonne over the weekend and by a further 60 yuan ($10) per tonne on Monday to reach 2,920 yuan ($479) per tonne ex-works.

“Billet prices are up because the tighter environmental regulations may cause production to come down,” a trading source in Shanghai said. Market sentiment seemed a little better on Monday, he added.

“We’re cautious about booking cargoes at the moment. Prices seem to be going down further but, if we agree on index-linked pricing, what happens if the market goes up in March?” a Beijing-based trader said.

A mill source said that stock levels remained high and the steelmaker had little interest in procuring spot materials.

A total of 5.15 million tonnes of coking coal was reported to be sitting at Jingtang port on Monday, down from 5.3 million tonnes a week earlier. Rizhao port had 2.15 million tonnes in stockpiles, also down from 2.17 million tonnes on February 10.

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 947 yuan ($155) per tonne on Monday, up from Friday’s close of 926 yuan ($152) per tonne.

The most-traded May coke contract on the exchange also closed higher at 1,354 yuan ($222) per tonne, compared with the previous close of 1,316 yuan ($216) per tonne last Friday.

Elsewhere, Anglo American’s coking coal business reported an 89% year-on-year drop in profits, according to a results statement published by the company on February 14, despite achieving record output.

The miner saw underlying operating profit for its metallurgical coal business drop to $46 million at the end of 2013, from $405 million a year earlier.

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