| PERTH, Sept 28
PERTH, Sept 28 Australia's thermal coal price
index fell in the past week, dragged down in part by top
exporter Xstrata's recent settlement with Japanese
utilities for an annual supply agreement beginning in October.
Thermal coal on the global COAL Newcastle index for the week
to date closed at $122.20 per tonne on Tuesday, down from
$123.66 per tonne a week earlier.
Xstrata's settlement price came in lower than the record of
$129.85 per tonne for the 2011 benchmark annual contract
starting April 1, and less than some in the market had expected.
"Once the Japanese contract was out of the way, a lot of the
other markets fell away a little bit too," one Asia-based trade
Slow demand from Japanese utilities continues to affect
demand for Australian coal and prices. Coal demand from Japan
has dropped sharply since March, when an earthquake and tsunami
damaged some coal-fired power plants and infrastructure.
"In any normal year (Japanese utilities) would have had
tenders and enquiries. Suppliers are shipping now at a normal
pace, but there is just no extra inquiry because they have
contracted what they intended to," one Australia-based market
Still, many Australian producers have mostly sold supplies
through December, the source said.
The increasing chance of a La Nina weather event forming in
late 2011 could boost Australian coal prices. Last year, floods
associated with a La Nina event pushed thermal coal prices to
In China, domestic coal prices rose to 832 yuan ($130.016)
on Wednesday, according to the Bohai-Rim Bay thermal coal price
With winter approaching and Chinese prices moving slightly
higher, Chinese buyers took several cargoes of South African
Richards Bay coal, sources said.
In South Korea, Korea Western Power Co Ltd (WP) was seeking
a combined 1.475 million tonnes of steaming coal via spot and
($1 = 6.399 Chinese Yuan)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)