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Asia thermal coal prices supported ahead of Lunar New Year

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Asia thermal coal prices supported ahead of Lunar New Year

Logistics issues in Qinhuangdao's coal supply chain, a stronger Yuan, andcolder temperatures in China all supported seaborne thermal coal pricesThursday as activity started to wind down ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

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"If the shortage of railway capacity in China is not solved it will notchange the market at all," a trader in north China said. "It is still winterin China; this is not time for prices to crash," he added.

Another trader in north China said the Yuan's appreciation against the USdollar was another supportive factor for seaborne thermal coal prices.

"It looks like the market has stabilized at a high level and may findsupport to the end of March," he added.

Dry bulk freight on the Newcastle to China route has softened this week,with a fixture heard at $9.60/mt for a 130,000 mt ship, early March loading,for arrival at Lanshan port in Northeast China , sources said.

There was a slump in screen-traded prices for FOB Newcastle 6,000 kcal/kgNAR thermal coal in Thursday's Asia trading session after a March-loadingparcel for 25,000 mt traded at $103.50/mt. This was several dollars lower thanthe trade for this grade and month of delivery at $107/mt FOB Newcastle Mondayon globalCOAL.

In the Newcastle high ash market, a March-loading Capesize cargo wasoffered at a $3/mt premium to another 5,500 kcal/kg NAR index, sources said.

An Indonesia-based producer said more people were concerned about theimpact of China 's price cap on domestic 5,500 kcal/kg NAR coal after theLunar New Year.

Spot Indonesian coal cargoes were difficult to find. Many miners weresold until April and some were grappling with delayed loadings due to rain.

"The seas are rough for loading cargoes, so it's difficult to ship," theproducer said.


A firm bid was heard for a Panamax shipment, 4,800 kcal/kg GAR coal , at$70.50-$71/mt FOB Kalimantan.

A south India-based trader said he heard bids for a March-loading gearedshipment 4,200 kcal/kg GAR coal at $49/mt FOB to offers at $51/mt.

"Buyers are holding off from purchasing after news that China was cappingits 5,500 kcal/kg NAR coal price," he said. "They expect prices to go down,"he added.

A trader in Thailand said he heard a bid for this grade at around $49/mtFOB for a geared-vessel cargo loading in March, to an offer at $52/mt.

A west India-based trader said India's power production has been decentand the plant load factor was averaging 60%-70%.

He heard a bid for an end February to early March loading geared-vesselshipment of 4,200 kcal/kg GAR coal with 0.2%-0.3% sulfur at $52/mt FOB.

Indonesian 3,800 kcal/kg NAR coal was offered to buyers in China at$51.75-$52/mt FOB Kalimantan, Panamax cargoes, March loading, to a bid at$51.60/mt, a trader in Singapore said.

South African 6,000 kcal/kg NAR prices had seen a drastic correction inrecent days and were around $90.50/mt FOB, which had Indian buyers thinkingIndonesian prices may follow suit, a south India -based trader said. SouthAfrican 5,500 kcal/kg NAR coal was being offered at a discount of $8/mt to6,000 kcal/kg NAR coal prices, while buyers were seeking a $9.50/mt discount,sources said.

-- Arusha Das,

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