LAUNCESTON, Australia, May 2 (Reuters) – Coal exporters suffered a poor April with seaborne volumes dropping from the previous month amid slack demand, but the overall picture for the industry so far this year isn’t quite as gloomy as it may appear.
April is not traditionally a strong month for coal demand as it falls between the winter and summer power demand peaks – declining seaborne volumes are to be expected. It’s also worth noting that the world’s top coal exporters have managed to boost shipments on a year-on-year basis, not just in April but also for the first four months of the year.
The strength in export volumes so far in 2019 hasn’t been matched by prices, with benchmark Australian thermal coal trending weaker since reaching a seven-and-a-half-year peak of $119.74 a tonne in July last year.
However, it’s worth noting that the Newcastle weekly price , as assessed by Argus Media, has rebounded in recent weeks, lifting from a 22-month low of $74.57 a tonne in the week to April 5 to reach $86.19 as of April 26.
It’s possible the move higher in prices is because Australian export volumes have been somewhat resilient, despite April’s numbers being lower than those for March.