China Coastal Coal Freight Rates Continue to Slide

China Coastal Coal Freight Rates Continue to Slide

China’s coastal coal freight rates extended the downtrend over the past week albeit at a slower pace, falling to the lowest levels since the beginning of the year, as rising stocks and strong hydropower output continue to weigh on the market. 

Yet, there are positive signs that indicate the freight rates may stabilize in the near future, as some shipping companies have reported an increase in shipment demand over the past few days.

As of June 9, the shipping rate for vessels of 50,000-60,000 DWT from Qinhuangdao to Guangzhou port dropped 2.2% to 30.7 yuan/t from 31.4 yuan/t a week ago.

While compared to a month ago, the rate posted a deeper decline of 16.6% from 36.8 yuan/t, showed data from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, mainly due to weak demand and excess capacity.

The freight for smaller vessels of 15,000-20,000 DWT from Qinhuangdao to Ningbo port in East China's Zhejiang province fell 1.5% or 0.4 yuan/t on week to 25.6 yuan/t.

Freight rates for vessels from other northern China ports to the south also edged down, with 30,000-40,000 DWT vessels from Huanghua to Shanghai port and 40,000-50,000 DWT vessels from Jingtang/Caofeidian to Ningbo port both decreasing 1.2% and 1.7% to 24 yuan/t and 22.7 yuan/t week on week respectively.

With adequate hydropower output amid heavy rainfalls, coastal power plants are reluctant to add more coal to their already high stocks.

Data showed coal stocks at the six coastal power groups ticked down to 14.13 million tonnes on June 8, down 0.44% from the end of May, enough to cover nearly 22.34 days, about 0.89 days more than in late May, as their daily coal use remained the same at 0.62 million tonnes during the same period of time.

Meanwhile, the latest data indicated that coal stocks at northern China ports continued to remain at relatively high levels, maintaining 6.16 million tonnes at Qinhuangdao port on June 9, same as the end of May.

Coal stocks at Jingtang and Caofeidian ports increased 1.7% and 11.4% from the end of May to 1.77 million tonnes and 4.89 million tonnes on June 9, respectively.

The coastal freight market may remain bearish in the short term, as coal shipping demand may not improve materially until late June or early July when air conditioning is in full swing.

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