COLUMN-Seaborne coal prices under pressure as demand softens in China, India – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – April 16, 2020)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, April 16 (Reuters) – Worrying signs are emerging for coal exporters to the world’s biggest markets in Asia, as top buyers China and India move to favour domestic supplies over seaborne imports.

The prices of higher-grade Australian thermal coal, lower-rank Indonesian thermal coal, and Australian coking coal used in steel-making have come under pressure in recent days, amid signs demand may be easing.

Vessel tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv suggests a slowing in cargo offloadings in top importer China, number two buyer India and third-ranked Japan in the first half of April, both from March and the year-earlier month.

While April is historically a slower month for seaborne coal imports, falling in the shoulder season between peak winter and summer power demand, this year the picture has been clouded by the economic fallout caused by the new coronavirus.

China, where the coronavirus originated, was the first country to lock down much of its economy and is currently the first to try and restart activity.

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