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coal article.

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    Stole this from the COAL threads but thought I was worth sharing.

    Newcastle Thermal Coal Rises to Record on China Export Cuts

    By Angela Macdonald-Smith

    Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Coal prices rose to a record for a third straight week at Australia's Newcastle port, a benchmark for Asia, as snowstorms in China cut exports, adding to supply disruptions in Australia and South Africa.

    Power-station coal prices at the New South Wales port gained $9.04, or 7.8 percent, to $125.48 a metric ton in the week ended Feb. 8, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index. The price rose 73 percent in 2007. European and South African prices rose to a record earlier this month.

    China, with coal deliveries disrupted by the heaviest snowstorms in 50 years, has halted exports until April, while blackouts in South Africa have crimped mine production. In Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance is among four miners that warned customers shipments will be delayed after flooding.

    ``China has probably been the key issue; there's been talk of a complete ban on exports and within that light that's another four to five million tons just taken out of the Asia-Pacific market,'' said Gerard Burg, a minerals and energy economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne. ``The market was already hot and that added more fuel to the fire.''

    The price increase comes as coal suppliers and buyers are set to begin negotiations on annual contract prices to take effect April 1.

    Citigroup Inc., UBS AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among banks that in the past two weeks have raised their forecasts for thermal coal contract prices for the year starting April 1. The annual contract price may almost double to $100 a ton, Citigroup Inc. estimates. UBS is also forecasting $100 a ton for power- station coal, while JPMorgan raised its forecast to $90, up from $55.65 this year.

    GlobalCOAL's monthly index for Newcastle thermal coal prices rose $1.71, or 1.9 percent, to $90.87 a ton in January, the fourth successive monthly record. Newcastle is the world's biggest coal-export harbor.
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