Weak Chinese demand sees seaborne coking coal prices soften

Weakening sentiment saw the seaborne hard coking coal spot market remain subdued on Monday January 13.

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“The market is still pretty quiet. Buying interest has remained weak and fewer people were making enquiries,” a trading source in Beijing told Steel First.

A Singapore-based trader agreed. “I haven’t heard of any buying interest on the spot market these days,” he said. “Suppliers are also taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis edged down to $144.08 per tonne on Monday, down by $0.76 per tonne from Friday.

Premium hard coking coal index prices fob Australia’s DBCT port were calculated at $131.71, unchanged from Friday.

The price for hard coking coal stood at $131.81 per tonne cfr Jingtang on Monday, down by $0.40 from Friday.

Hard coking coal prices fob Australia were unchanged at $118.84 per tonne.

In addition to lower domestic Chinese coke prices, the downward trending rebar contracts on the Shanghai Futures Exchange have added to market pressure, sources said.

Market participants speaking to Steel First considered top Australian brands tradable at about $145 per tonne and second-tier materials in the low to mid-$130s per tonne cfr China.

US producers were heard offering medium-volatility coal into China at the low $130s per tonne cfr mark.

“These prices are very low. I cannot see how US producers can make any money selling at these levels,” a European trader commented.

The most-traded May coking coal contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 982 yuan ($161) per tonne on Monday, down slightly from Friday’s close of 984 yuan ($161) per tonne.

The most-traded May coke contract closed at 1,372 yuan ($225) per tonne, down by 10 yuan ($2) per tonne from Friday’s close of 1,382 yuan ($227) per tonne.