The sudden bull market for coal may or may not have anything to do with the new president. As Bloomberg points out, Trump is actually inheriting a very favorable environment for coal:
Natural gas prices are higher than a year ago, making coal more competitive in the power sector. China’s trimming its own production, boosting prices for metallurgical coal used in steelmaking. And America’s output is up 15 percent from 2016, suggesting this bruised and battered industry may be on the mend.
While the industry itself may see an uptick, with more mine openings and perhaps continued higher prices, Trump’s promise of more jobs will prove difficult — if not impossible — to fulfill. That’s because the double whammy of cheap natural gas (a much cleaner energy source) and technological advancements in the coal mining industry simply don’t support meaningful industry job growth.
The coal industry isn’t dead, but it’s on life support. And there’s almost nothing President Trump or anyone else can do about it.
The Market Vectors-Coal ETF (NYSE:KOL) was unchanged in premarket trading Friday. Year-to-date, KOL has gained 5.71%, versus a 6.50% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.