Platts assessed the weekly CIF Turkey 6,000 kcal/kg assessment at $88/mt, down $2 week on week.
A deal for an April Panamax of high-sulfur Central Appalachian coal delivered into Iskenderun -- first reported at the end of last week -- was confirmed by market participants.
The transaction was executed in the "high $86/mt" and was sold to a Turkish utility.
A second transaction was said to have taken place, but that could not be confirmed.
Platts thermal coal assessment is normalized to the Marmara Sea ports, which carry a $1-2/mt freight premium to Iskenderun.
A Turkey-based trader said he believes the level of the US coal transaction was low and may have been finalized by "someone who had positions he had to get rid of."
CEMENT SECTOR DEMAND
A second Turkey-based trader said that there is demand for thermal coal in the Iskenderun area from cement producers and other customers, but many are wary about current prices.
He said that these participants are not short for material and are willing to wait to see what direction prices take before committing to a transaction.
"This week they will test to see if [the market] will drop further -- if it goes up, then they will fix [a cargo], so that they don't lose the price," he said.
He added that he expects prices to fall in the coming weeks, on low demand due to the mild winter in Turkey, the upcoming restart of Colombian exports from US miner Drummond, and good availability of Russian coal.
Sources did report difficulty in procuring cargoes from South Africa, with the arbitrage closed on tighter availability and higher dry bulk freight rates.
Sources also said Colombian thermal coal is in the "low $80/mt" on a 6,000 kcal/kg NAR Panamax basis, while US CAPP coal can be procured as high as $88/mt.
A Switzerland-based trader said his company offered a Russian Panamax to a Turkish buyer at $90/mt CFR but it did not raise any buying interest.
The trader said some end-users can buy coal at about $85/mt CIF to make it competitive with the petcoke market, but for most buyers that is not an option.
He added that cement producers prefer to procure thermal coal despite its premium to petcoke, because "you get better clinker if you use coal ... sulfur is an issue in the kiln."
"Quality at the moment is not the issue," he said.
--Jaime Concha, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jeff Barber, email@example.com