Analysts forecast coal price boost this quarter

Coal production cuts and rising demand in Asia are expected to boost coal prices this quarter, The Herald reports.

Australia's Newcastle thermal coal prices hit their lowest point since 2009 in Q3 2013, selling at $77.06 per metric ton in Q3 2013, according to data obtained by The Herald from IHS McCloskey.

But some major analysts are expecting a price rebound.

"Morgan Stanley forecasts a fourth-quarter average of $82 while CIMB Group Holdings Bhd predicts $85," Herald writes.

"There's going to be a bit more buying activity from the Chinese," Mark Pervan, the head of commodity strategy at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Melbourne told Herald reporters.

Morgan Stanely analysts also added that Chinese power plants are holding the lowest coal invesntories in two years.

Meanwhile, BMO commodity strategist Jessica Fung recently noted that "iron ore and coking coal could get a boost due to higher-than-expected steel output in China," the Financial Post reports.

A recent report by energy consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie also noted this week that coal is set to overtake oil as the world's main source of energy by 2020.

But several factors may temper these optimistic forecasts. Chinese growth could slow next year, as predicted. Also, weakness of the India rupee is making coal more expensive to import. India is the world's second biggest coal importer.

Image: China – Coal Bike (1997) by Brian Kelly.