| PERTH, April 5
PERTH, April 5 Australia's thermal coal prices
rose during the past week, supported by a higher settlement for
the annual Japanese thermal coal contract.
Thermal coal on the globalCOAL Newcastle index, a benchmark
for Asia, closed at $123.75 per tonne for the week to date on
Monday, up from $123 per tonne a week earlier and $121.13 on
Xstrata and Chugoku Electric settled the annual
thermal coal contract for the Japanese fiscal year starting
April 1, at a record level late last week, boosting prices more
than $2 per tonne over the weekend. [ID:nL3E7EV499]
The contract was settled at $129.85, according to sources,
well above the index price of $120.84 last Thursday when the
contract was settled as Japanese buyers paid a higher premium
for supply security in the wake of the deadly earthquake that
shut several power plants last month.
Post-settlement, the market was relatively thin as
Australian producers focused on settling their contracts with
their long term customers. The settlement prices for other
Japanese utilities are expected to be in line with the agreement
reached between Xstrata and Chugoku.
"Most Australian producers, whatever coal they have, they
are selling to the Japanese customers. I'm just not seeing much
volume uncontracted," one Sydney-based source said.
Korea East West Power Co (EWP) is seeking sub-bituminous
coal via spot and term tenders, which closed on Friday. South
Korean buyers are still looking to buy thermal coal at a sizable
discount to the settlement price,
Traders also said one South Korean reportedly paid $110 per
tonne for a cargo of 5,900 kcal/kg coal NAR.
Chinese buyers were still largely said to be sitting on the
sidelines, although one deal for Indonesian sub-bituminous coal
was said to have been done around $84 per tonne.
Lower prices for domestic coal in China have limited import
buying interest from the world's largest coal producer and
consumer recently. [ID:nL3E7ET08C]
Earlier this week, China's state planning agency called on
regions and enterprises to keep coal prices stable as its power
utilities struggle with rising costs and the government wrestles
with inflation. [ID:nL3E7F201Q]
In Europe, coal futures prices were pushed up on Monday on
strong demand from Germany's power sector after Germany ordered
seven nuclear reactors to be shut last month after the Japanese
nuclear crisis. [ID:nLDE7331V1]
Traders said spot trades are likely to be few and far
between for the next week as Australian producers and Japanese
buyers settle annual thermal coal contracts following . The
prices are typically set by Xstrata and a utility representing
Japanese utilities, which this year was taken by Chugoku
The settlement price of around $130 was interpreted as
relatively bullish for the Pacific market and traders and
analysts said they would be looking for prices to inch up as the
Japan emerges from the earthquake crisis.
ADDITIONAL REUTERS COAL COVERAGE:
RECURRING MARKET REPORTS
European physical market............
European swaps market...............
Australian spot prices..............
North America coal market...........
STOCKS AND IMPORT/EXPORT DATA
Australia Newcastle stocks..........
S. Africa's Richards Bay stocks.....
TRADES AND TENDERS Spot trades... [COAL/TRADE\]
McCloskeys weekly physical spot/freight
API4 coal paper prices, McCloskeys............<0#MCC-C-API4>
API2 coal paper prices, McCloskeys............<0#MCC-C-API2>
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Ed Lane)