China Coal Price Falls to Three-Year Low as Inventories Rise

The benchmark price for China’s power-station coal fell to the lowest in more than three years as increased imports of the fuel boosted stockpiles amid a slowdown in power generation.

Spot coal with an energy value of 5,500 kilocalories per kilogram at the port of Qinhuangdao was at a range of 615 yuan ($98.85) to 625 yuan a metric ton as of yesterday, down 5 yuan from the week before, according to data today from the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association. That’s the lowest price since Oct. 19, 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Stockpiles of the fuel at the port rose 3.6 percent to 7.45 million tons, the highest in a month.

China’s electricity output growth slowed to 3.4 percent in the first two months of 2013 from December’s 7.6 percent as industrial production had the weakest start to a year since 2009, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Mar. 9. The nation imported 53.85 million tons of coal in January and February, 34 percent higher than a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said March 8.

“Relatively high stockpiles and weak power generation weigh on domestic coal prices,” Helen Lau, an analyst at UOB Kay-Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong, said by phone. “The government’s efforts in energy conservation and pollution reduction may also curb a recovery in prices.”

The government plans to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions and energy use per unit of gross domestic product by at least 3.7 percent in 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, said in a report March 5. The country cut energy intensity by 3.6 percent last year, beating a target of 3.5 percent.

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