China’s October coal imports fell 14.6% compared to the prior month, customs data showed on Tuesday, as domestic prices declined and stocks held at record levels.
Imports, which totalled 35.99 million metric tons, were up 23.3% from the same month a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Lower domestic coal prices and higher overseas prices squeezed profits for importers, said a Shanghai-based analyst, who declined to be named because of company policy.
Unseasonably warm weather for much of October and soaring power plant stocks also put a damper on domestic coal demand, the analyst said.
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Domestic coal prices dropped for a fourth consecutive week in the week to Nov. 6, Daiwa analysts said in a note on Monday, adding they expected the downtrend to continue.
Power plant stocks are currently at record highs of about 200 million tons, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA).
That means most power generators do not need to add to their stockpiles at present, Li Xuegang, vice chairman of industry group China CoalTransportation and Distribution Association (CCTD), told a briefing last week.
India also bought more coal from Indonesia for October delivery, said a China-based trader, which may have limited Indonesian shipments to China.
Total coal imports in the first 10 months of the year stood at 383.64 million tons, up 66.8% from the same period of 2022, the customs data showed.
China’s coal imports could reach a record 460 million tons this year, according to the CCTD.
Some regions of China could see power shortages this winter, supporting coal demand, NEA spokesperson Zhang Xing said last week.
Parts of northern China saw unseasonably cold weather on Monday, as blizzards forced flight cancellations and school closures. Governments in Beijing and Tianjin have had to make preparations to supply heat earlier than usual.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Colleen Howe; Editing by Kim Coghill and Jamie Freed)