Becoming Australia’s biggest export failed to ignite ASX coal shares today

ASX coal shares should arguably have had a cracker today. What’s going on?

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A group of miners in hard hats sitting in a mine chatting on a break as ASX coal shares perform well today

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Key points

  • The ASX had a fairly positive day today
  • It was more of a mixed bag for ASX coal shares
  • New data shows coal was our biggest export last month

It was a mildly positive day for ASX shares on Thursday. At the closing bell, the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) had risen by a decent 0.8% to just over 6,830 points. But it was a bit more of a mixed bag for ASX coal shares.

The ASX’s largest pure-play coal share – Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) – had a corker. It finished up a healthy 1.7% at $4.73 a share.

But other coal shares weren’t as fortunate. Take New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX: NHC). New Hope shares took a 1.43% tumble back to $3.44.

But that stands in stark contrast to Yancoal Australia Ltd (ASX: YAL). It even beat Whitehaven, rising by a pleasing 3.99% to $4.95 a share at the close.

So why this mixed bag? Well, it’s not clear. But we did get some significant news today that covers all ASX coal shares. And it’s news that one would think would give investors in this space a surge of confidence.

ABS data shows ASX coal shares’ exports are surging

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today, Australia’s trade surplus has widened considerably. The surplus increased by $2.717 billion over May to reach a total of $15.965 billion.

The country’s trade surplus (or deficit) is determined by the total value of the nation’s exports, minus the value of its imports. A trade surplus means we are exporting more than we are importing (a deficit being the opposite).

Imports rose by 5.8% to $42.44 billion over May, driven mainly by higher fuel costs, but exports surged by even more, up 9.5% to $58.4 billion. The ABS tells us that this rise was propelled by “rises in exports of coal, coke and briquettes and other mineral fuels”.

Indeed, reporting from the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reveals that “in dollar terms the value of coal exports were larger than the value of iron ore exports in May for the first time since April 2009”, largely thanks to surging coal prices in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

This is obviously fairly momentous news for ASX coal shares. One might think that topping iron ore in exports for the first time in 23 years might be good news for ASX coal share prices. But it seems the good news only flowed through to some ASX coal shares on the market today. Go figure.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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