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Houston β€” US coal exports totaled 4.7 million mt in March, up 15.5% from the prior month but down 31.6% from the year-ago month, US Census data showed Wednesday.

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While it was the highest monthly total since October 2015, when 5.2 million mt of US coal were exported, it comes only two months after January coal exports reached a multi-year low of 4 million mt, which was the lowest monthly total since May 2009.

The slight uptick in exports comes as seaborne pricing for metallurgical coal has strengthened since the start of the year, though pricing for thermal coal delivered into Northern Europe has dipped.

On Tuesday, S&P Global Platts assessed the price for low vol hard coking coal FOB US East Coast at $88/mt, up 11.4% since the beginning of the year, while Tuesday's price for CIF ARA thermal coal was assessed at $46.25/mt, down 4.1%.

Article Continues below...

For March, met coal exports totaled 3.3 million mt, up 2.4% from February but down 32.1% from the year-ago month. It was the highest monthly total since August 2015.

Bituminous coal exports in March totaled 1.2 million mt, up 62.1% from the prior month but down 29.8% from the year-ago month.

Subbituminous coal exports totaled 132,779 mt in March, down 26.6% from the prior month and down 65.5% from the year-ago month. It was a multi-year low, as the Pacific seaborne market continues to deal with oversupply.

Top met coal export destinations in March 2016 were India, which imported 867,559 mt compared with 899,978 mt in March 2015; Brazil, which imported 599,551 mt in March 2016 compared with 340,791 mt in the year-ago month; and the Netherlands, which imported 384,638 mt compared with 387,245 mt last year.

Top bituminous coal export destinations in March 2016 were the Netherlands, which imported 448,9222 mt compared with 686,570 mt in March 2015; India, which imported 342,614 mt in March compared with 220,110 mt last year; and Germany, which imported 143,599 mt in March compared with 81,448 mt in the year-ago month.

--Andrew Moore, andrew.moore@spglobal.com

--Edited by Lisa Miller, lisa.miller@spglobal.com