PERTH Nov 17 Australia's thermal coal
prices fell below $114 per tonne during the past week as demand
from China, the world's largest consumer of the fuel, remained
Thermal coal on the global COAL Newcastle index for the week
to date closed at $113.50 per tonne on Wednesday, down from
$116.50 per tonne a week earlier, with a bid for January
delivery at $113.50 per tonne.
Australian thermal coal shipments from Newcastle port fell
just over 3 percent in the week ended Nov. 14 to 2.53 million
tonnes, down from 2.61 million tonnes the previous
"The Chinese just really have shut the door... some power
plants are even selling back into the market," one market source
China's domestic coal prices were nearly flat at 852 yuan
($134) per tonne during the last week, according to the weekly
Bohai-Rim Bay thermal coal price index published Wednesday.
Rising domestic prices in China often spur import buying,
but even with prices falling in the rest of the Pacific region,
China's utilities are so well-stocked they have shown little
Traders likely bought too much coal for the fourth quarter
of the year, resulting in huge queues at Chinese ports, the
market source said.
Most of the southern power plants still have more than
two-weeks worth of supplies, while those in the north, which
tend to run short, still have about a week's worth of inventory.
One large buyer said offers for January cargoes have started
to come in, but the generally weak sentiment kept buyers from
China's lunar new year holiday is due to start in late
January, so players are reluctant to stock up too much ahead of
the week-long break, particularly without a clear sense of where
the market is heading.
Demand from other large Asian buyers was also thin, but
Korea Western Power Co Ltd (WP) purchased 4.45 million tonnes of
Australian steaming coal via spot and term tenders.
Japanese buyers were seen as being well supplied with plenty
of supply from long-term contracts.
South Korea's imports of coal in October slipped 6 percent
to 8.43 million tonnes from a year earlier and Japanese
utilities used 4.04 million tonnes of thermal coal in October,
down from 4.08 tonnes a year ago.
The globalCOAL price index for Australia has fallen from
nearly $130 per tonne in March as demand from Australia's
biggest buyer, Japan, has waned and a slowdown in China's buying
has dampened the coal market regionally.
But prices are still higher than a year ago when they were
below $100 per tonne.
($1 = 6.346 Chinese Yuan)
(Additional reporting by Fayen Wong in Shanghai, editing by