Last week Newcastle physical thermal coal prices were up 2.5%, but iron ore and coking coal prices fell 2.8%. Australian thermal coal prices gained on improved activity on-screen ahead of January annual term talks between producers and Japanese utilities. Traders were reportedly covering short positions ahead of year-end. Premium hard coking coal prices ended the week lower, in line with softer iron ore and Chinese domestic steel markets. Coking coal spot market activity appears to be relatively quiet ahead of first quarter term negotiations, which is expected to be struck this week. Inventories in China appear to have been replenished.