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Seaborne thermal coal imports by China likely to remain robust in early 2017

Seaborne thermal coal imports by China have so far reached 17.79 million tonnes in December, a strong indication that they are likely to match the strength of October and November, and remain robust in early 2017, Reuters reported Dec. 14.

Seaborne coal imports in October and November clocked in at 20.13 million tonnes and 20.49 million tonnes, respectively, according to the report, citing data from Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts.

However, the possibility for seaborne thermal coal prices to rally is marginal, due in large part to competition with declining Chinese domestic prices. The National Development and Reform Commission recently asked producers to set a ceiling for the price of their contracts in a bid to control burgeoning coal prices.

Thermal coal at the Chinese port of Qinhuangdao was last quoted at 600 Chinese yuan per ton, equivalent to about US$87 per ton, while the front-month delivery contract at Australia's Newcastle port dropped 22% to a close of US$89.65 per ton Dec. 13, Reuters reported.

As of Dec. 14, US$1 was equivalent to 6.90 Chinese yuan.