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China has banned imports of Australian coal, shocking the AU Dollar

"Offer prices for Australian thermal coal have slumped as a result and we heard yesterday a large Australian coal producer offering an April loading cargo of Newcastle 5,500 NAR thermal coal - the grade that goes to China - to India at $55/mt [metric tonne] FOB Newcastle".

Earlier, he said Australia was not being singled out.

While the local officials acted on the order in various ways, the general effect was to extend clearance for Australian coal to more than 40 days.

"Australians do a lot of trade with our giant neighbour to the north, however, we should be calm about this move".

The United States is seeking to secure a pledge from China it will not devalue its yuan as part of an agreement meant to end the countries' trade war, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

"The goal of this is to better maintain Chinese import enterprises' legitimate rights and interests and to ensure environmental safety", Geng said.

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"Use of mid-sulfur Shanxi premium HCCs (1-1.3% total sulfur) with low sulfur (0.5% total sulfur) 1/3 metallurgical coals to produce a lower quality, but still a tier 1 coke".

He said a report by the Reuters news agency saying that ports in the northern Chinese city of Dalian had banned imports of Australian coal was "not true".

The Dalian Port Group will continue to accept coal from Indonesia and China.

On Friday morning, the Australian dollar was tradingmore than one percentage point down from Thursday after Reuters reported that one of China's biggest ports had banned imports of Australian coal and would cap overall coal imports for 2019.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was in the spotlight after Australia added more full-time employment in January as expected.

"In recent years, China Customs has found that some of the imported coal didn't meet our environmental protection standards when it carried out inspection and testing on safety and quality risks of the imported coal", China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters. He didn't say whether China was targeting Australia specifically.

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They represented just 1.8 per cent of Australia's total global coal exports.

Its rival Coles closed about 1.7 per cent higher.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged observers to be "careful about leaping to conclusions" and said regulatory rather than political issues were at play. He said local ports make their own decisions.

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe warned there would be "very difficult" economic consequences if the coal restrictions were a sign of a broader "souring" of the Australia-China relationship.

"The potential political nature of this targeted ban after a number of bilateral issues have surfaced. may be reminiscent of the impediments to Mongolia's coal exports to China after the Dalai Lama visit in 2016", US bank Citi said on Friday in a note.

"For now, Australian coal can clear customs", he said, declining to be named because of company policy. "We have to wait to see what the underlying reasons are", he said at a parliamentary hearing in Sydney.

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Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been deteriorating since 2017, when Australian authorities accused China of interfering with its domestic affairs.

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