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Cargo re-trading, China buying in H1 set stage for metallurgical coal record rally

Metallurgical coal's breathtaking 131% price rally in the third quarter of 2016 has elevated the steelmaking raw material to become the year's best performing commodity so far.

But Platts-observed spot trade data in January-June showed that the seeds of the price rally were already sown earlier in the year. Greater cargo re-trading and robust Chinese buying pushed seaborne metallurgical coal spot trades into the Asia-Pacific region higher 9.3% year on year to 30.95 million mt in the first six months of 2016.

S&P Global Platts recorded a total of 408 spot transactions in Asia-Pacific for met coal -- comprising premium, second-tier, semi-hard, semi-soft coking coals and pulverized coal injection coals -- over January-June.

The figure does not include cargoes sold into regions outside of Asia-Pacific such as Europe and South America.

In comparison, Platts captured 370 deals, totaling 28.3 million mt, in H1 2015. The H1 2015 data is slightly higher than that previously published as it includes deals not previously reported.

The calculations are based on spot deals observed by Platts as part of its Market on Close assessment process. Platts data measures transaction volume rather than cargo volume. This means a single cargo can be counted more than once as it trades repeatedly in the spot market before reaching the final end-user.

Prime hard coal accounted for the majority 45% of total Asian spot trades in H1 2016, followed by second-tier HCC at 22%, PCI at 20%, and semi-hard and semi-soft coals at 13%. The data excludes transactions of which vessel destination was unknown.

APAC h1 2016 Volumes By Coal Category (%)

For further reading, please refer to the full report: Metallurgical coal H1 spot trade review