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China Coal Prices Face ‘Upward Pressure,’ UOB-Kay Hian Says

China’s thermal coal prices face “upward pressure” and may rebound earlier than expected after stockpiles at ports and power stations declined, UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. said.

Demand for domestic coal was reflected in rising freight rates to deliver the fuel from Qinhuangdao port to Shanghai or Guangzhou, Helen Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at UOB-Kay Hian, said in an e-mailed note today. Freight costs climbed as much as 3 percent for the week ended Aug. 10 from a week earlier, reversing a downtrend since June, she said.

China’s thermal coal prices typically fall during July through September after power plants complete stockpiling the fuel to meet summer demand. Last year, prices began to rebound in late September as utilities replenished inventories consumed during the peak season, according to data from the Beijing-based China Coal Transport and Distribution Association.

Inventories at the top six Chinese power generation companies have fallen to the equivalent of 15 days of consumption after staying above 17 days since June, Lau said in today’s note. Inventories below 15 days represent supply tightness, she said.

Daily coal consumption at power plants rose to a record in July as electricity demand expanded 12 percent from a year earlier, Cai Hongyu, a Hong Kong-based analyst at China International Capital Corp., the nation’s biggest investment bank, said in a separate e-mailed note today.

China’s thermal coal prices should rebound in September as utilities restock and maintenance begins at Daqin railway, a major coal transportation rail-line, Cai wrote.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chua Baizhen in Beijing at bchua14@bloomberg.net; Winnie Zhu in Shanghai at wzhu4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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