Asia Coal-Australia thermal coal prices up in thinly traded mkt

PERTH Tue May 24, 2011 3:19pm IST

PERTH May 24 (Reuters) - Australia's thermal coal prices moved up during the past week in a thinly traded market that saw renewed interest from some Japanese buyers after a devastating tsunami in March cut the nation's coal demand.

Thermal coal on the globalCOAL Newcastle index for the week to date was $120.69 per tonne on Monday, up from $115.88 a week earlier, but market sources said the index represented a market with very little liquidity.

"There's just not a lot of tonnes, there's not a lot of players out there buying and selling," one Singapore-based market source said.

But traders and brokers said there were signs that Japanese buyer interest in coal deals has been reignited after it was forced to stop taking coal shipments in March due to the massive tsunami that shut some power plants.

Japanese buying patterns will likely return to normal by August, the source said, although demand may continue to be sluggish for June and July.

Newcastle coal for June delivery was traded for $112 per tonne on Friday, while tonnes for August delivery were traded at $120 per tonne on Tuesday and $122 per tonne on Friday.

Coal for July was offered at $121 per tonne on Tuesday with no bids.

Chinese import demand, particularly for Indonesian sub-bituminous coal, has continued as domestic prices moved to the highest level in two years last week, but slowed since last week. [ID:nL4E7GK13Q]

"China buying from Indonesia has cooled down a bit... Indonesian prices are reaching a peak, I think," said another market source based in Singapore.

Korea Southern Power Co Ltd (KOSPO) also bought Indonesian coal at about $106 per tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis for 4,500 kcal/kg (NAR). [ID:nL3E7FJ01X].

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RECURRING MARKET/DATA REPORTS

Australian spot prices..............

Australia Newcastle stocks..........

China monthly coal import/export....

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McCloskeys weekly physical spot/freight prices..<0#MCC-CASH>

API4 coal paper prices, McCloskeys............<0#MCC-C-API4>

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Indonesian Govt Coal Benchmark...................<0#COAL-ID> (Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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