April 28, 2020 / 4:19 AM / a month ago

Chinese coking coal tumbles to 4-month low on sluggish demand, lower import prices

* Coking coal down as much as 5.0% in early trade

* Iron ore, coke prices drop

* BHP looks to expand iron ore exports from Port Hedland

BEIJING, April 28 (Reuters) - Chinese coking coal futures plunged on Tuesday to a more than four-month low because of weak demand from plants amid high inventories of steel products, while traders lowered prices on falling imports costs.

The most-traded coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for September delivery, fell as much as 5.0% to 1,028 yuan ($145.04) a tonne, the lowest since Dec. 26, 2019. The contract was down 4.1% at 1,038 yuan per tonne by 0330 GMT.

“Demand of the steelmaking ingredient is very soft as coke inventories are high, so are stockpiles of finished steel products,” said a Shandong-based trader, who requested not to be named.

He added that customs clearance has been slow recently and traders do not want to take more imports given the weak market.

Since recent prices of coking coal imports, around 1,000-1,100 yuan a tonne, are lower than futures rates, traders are revising down futures prices of the steelmaking ingredient, the trader said.

Coke futures also traded lower, dropping 3.4% to 1,647 yuan a tonne.

Benchmark iron ore futures fell 1.2% to 598 yuan a tonne.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot prices of iron ore with 62% iron content for delivery to China stood at $84.5 per tonne on Monday, unchanged from the previous session.

* October contracts of steel futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange also fell, with rebar down 0.7% at 3,308 yuan a tonne and hot-rolled coil dipping 0.7% to 3,158 yuan a tonne.

* Stainless steel futures, for June delivery, fell 0.4% to 12,880 yuan a tonne.

* Some 2.97 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 205,948 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

* Miner BHP Group, said on Tuesday it plans to expand its iron ore export capacity from Port Hedland, the largest global shipping hub for the steel-making commodity, by up to 40 million tonnes a year to 330 million tonnes a year.

* China’s finance ministry has given three provinces additional advanced quotas for the issuance of local government special bonds, five sources with knowledge of the matter said.

$1 = 7.0878 Chinese yuan Reporting by Min Zhang and Tom Daly; Editing by Aditya Soni

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