Widening seaborne coking coal bid/offer gap keeps trade thin

Large gaps between bids and offers in the Asian seaborne hard coking coal spot market kept participants on the sidelines on Tuesday March 18.

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“Buyers and sellers are in a stand-off situation as miners are unwilling to lower their prices further while buyers continue to wait for the market to stabilise,” a trading source in Shanghai told Steel First.

The trader added that he thought that room for further prices falls was limited, although other market participants remained bearish.

Prices reflected the lack of positive sentiment, with all indices posting losses on the day.

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $122.58 per tonne on Tuesday, down by $2.57 from levels seen on Monday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was $112.23, down by $0.44 from Monday..

The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $112.23 per tonne on Tuesday, down by $2.01. The fob value was $103.33 per tonne, down by $1.49 from Monday.

“It’s very difficult to say when the market will reach the bottom. Two weeks ago most people thought it was already close to the bottom, but look at what happened. Now, whoever can predict the market for the coming week is considered a master,” a Tianjin-based trader said.

A total of 4.77 million tonnes of coking coal was reportedly sitting at Jingtang port on Monday, down from 4.89 million tonnes seen last Monday. Inventories at Rizhao port, on the other hand, rose to 2.01 million tonnes, from 2 million tonnes recorded a week ago.

The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 847 yuan ($138) per tonne on Tuesday, up from Monday’s close of 837 yuan ($136) per tonne. The most-traded September coke contract closed at 1,214 yuan ($198) per tonne, also up from the previous close of 1,203 yuan ($196) per tonne.

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

Separately, China’s daily crude steel production for the first ten days of March totalled 2.0968 million tonnes, according to estimates released by China Iron & Steel Assn on Tuesday. This compares with 2.0817 million tonnes in the last ten days of February.