Thermal coal prices diverge as Japan, South Korea buy more, China, India less – by Clyde Russell (Reuters – December 11, 2023)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 11 (Reuters) – The prices of differing grades of seaborne thermal coal in Asia are diverging as strong demand for high-quality fuel coal by Japan and South Korea drives a rally, but lacklustre imports by China and India mean lower grades stagnate.

Japan and South Korea are the main buyers of thermal coal linked to the Newcastle Index, which assesses coal with an energy content of 6,000 kilocalories per kilogram (kcal/kg) from Australia, the world’s second-largest exporter of the power station fuel.

The weekly index , as assessed by commodity price reporting agency Argus, rose to $141.59 a metric ton in the seven days to Dec. 8, its third consecutive weekly gain and an increase of 17.5% from its recent low of $120.53 on Nov. 10.

The daily assessment by globalCOAL saw the grade reach $149.36 a metric ton on Dec. 8, with the world’s leading coal-trading platform reporting physical cargoes trading at a premium to the index, a sign of rising demand.

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