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Chinese coking coal hits 4-month low on slow demand

Chinese coking coal futures fell on Tuesday to a more than four-month low in response to weak demand from plants with high inventories of steel products and as traders lowered prices because of cheaper imports.

The most-traded coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, for September delivery, fell by as much as 5.0% to 1,028 yuan ($145.04) a tonne, the lowest since Dec. 26, 2019. The contract closed down 4.3% to 1,036 yuan per tonne.

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

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

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

Coke futures followed the plunge, ending down 3.9% at 1,639 yuan a tonne, the lowest level since Nov.15.

Benchmark iron ore futures fell 1.7% to 595 yuan a tonne.

FUNDAMENTALS
* Spot prices of iron ore with a 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 1.1% at 3,292 yuan a tonne and hot-rolled coil falling 1.0% to 3,149 yuan a tonne.

* Stainless steel futures, for June delivery, dipped 0.4% to 12,885 yuan a tonne.

* Some 3.03 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 210,263 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

* Miner BHP Group, said on Tuesday it planned 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.

* The Philippines’ two leading nickel miners said on Tuesday they expect to gradually resume mining and shipping operations in the country’s main ore-producing region starting on May 1, following shutdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

* 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.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Min Zhang and Tom Daly; editing by Aditya Soni and Barbara Lewis)

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