Most Indonesian miners maintained thermal coal offer prices firm, as supply was curbed by rainy weather while demand from Chinese utilities also increased.
"Quite a number of Chinese utilities issued tenders for Indonesian coal, a sign of rebound in demand," said a south China-based trader, adding new tenders will come out next week.
"There indeed will be some increase of imports in January, but it remains uncertain if this will cause prices to dip," he analyzed. He said mainstream offer price for Indonesian 3,800 Kcal/kg NAR coal was $45/t FOB.
Higher than year-ago coal burns at Chinese coastal utilities and rains in Indonesia are mainly responsible for current price movements, said a Fujian-based trader. "Though utilities along the Yangtze River have made tenders, I dare not to book overseas cargoes due to too high price," he added.
The trader said Supramax cargoes of Indonesian 3,800 Kcal/kg NAR coal were offered at $45/t FOB, and $44.5/t FOB at lowest.
There's not much Indonesian coal available in the market, supporting offer prices to edge up, said a Tianjin-based trader. "But, inquiries were also sparse, as I know," he added.
Indonesian 3,800 Kcal/kg and 4,700 Kcal/kg NAR coal was offered at $44.5-45/t and $65/t FOB, according to the trader.
He placed freight rate from Indonesian to south China at $6/t and $7.6/t for Panamax and Supramax vessels, respectively.
"Most of our cargoes have been unloaded at south ports and future unloadings would be limited," said a Shandong-based trader.
One Shanghai-based trader said he planned to purchase January-loading import coal after locking December-arrival cargoes.
"Australian coal still has big price edge over Chinese domestic coal, though it takes time for customs clearance," he pointed out. Australian 5,500 Kcal/kg NAR coal was offered last week at $73/t FOB, he said.
However, another south China-based trader expected the time used for customs clearance to shorten from current 45 days next month, when new import quota for 2018 comes into use.
"We have received bids of $86.5/t CFR south China for Panamax shipment of Australian 5,500 Kcal/kg NAR coal," he stated.
As for Capesize shipping rates, the Tianjin-based trader reported the high level up to $13/t.
On December 1, the Fenwei CCI Import 5500 index was assessed at $86.7/t, CFR southern China ports, stable from a day ago and up $1.7/t from a week ago.
On the same day, the 4,700 Kcal/kg NAR import coal was assessed at $71.6/t, CFR southern China ports, up $0.6/t from the day prior and up $1.2/t from week prior; imported 3,800 Kcal/kg NAR coal was assessed at $52.3/t, growing $0.3/t day on day and up $1.3/t week on week.
(Writing by Jessie Jia Editing by Harry Huo)
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