NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - On expectations of higher coal prices, major coal stocks Peabody Energy ( BTU), Consol Energy ( CNX), Alpha Natural Resources ( ANR), Arch Coal ( ACI), Massey Energy ( MEE) and Natural Resource Partners ( NRP) gained between 0.9% and 3.8% Thursday. These stocks are poised to extend gains during the upcoming weeks on supply-demand dynamics.

Taking a look around the world, Australia's commitment to mining taxes could support higher coal prices and compel major mining companies to limit or defer development of new coal mines in the country. The ruling Labor Party's second-term agenda is focused on the 30% tax on coal and iron ore miners. The Australian Greens Party is urging Prime Minister Gillard to increase a proposed tax on coal and iron ore mining profits, reports Bloomberg. The country's first minority government, since World War II, needs support from the Greens Party and three independents to continue in government.

In addition, port congestion and bad weather continue to hamper Australia's coal exports, despite the recent expansion in port capacity. Meanwhile, BHP Billiton ( BHP) and Rio Tinto ( RTP) expanded operations to meet growing demand from coal-starved India and China, further congesting Australian ports.

Besides Asian giants, demand from other countries is set to surge. Vietnam will import 3 million-15 million tonnes of coal annually by 2015, rising to 21 million-40 million tonnes a year by 2010, as the country is building new coal-fired power plants, said Tran Xuan Hoa, chief executive of state mining firm Vinacomin, according to Vietnam Business.

Meanwhile, Europe's increasing coal demand and diminishing supplies are boosting prices. "Internal European coal demand will remain around 500 million tonnes and with production shrinking in countries such as Germany and the U.K., we would expect imports to rise to make up for that," said Paul Monnier, analyst with Paris-based Societe Generale, told Reuters.

Production in Indonesia, the world's top thermal coal exporter, may plunge 10%-20% this year from an initial target of 254 million tonnes, as heavy rains are hampering mining, according to Bambang Gatot Aryono, a director at the mines and energy ministry. For the first half of 2010, Indonesia's coal output was 115 million tonnes, from 250 million tonnes in 2009.

--Written by Karvy Global Services

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Karvy Global Services (www.karvyglobal.com), a subsidiary of the Karvy group (www.karvy.com), provides specialized research in asset classes including stocks, mutual funds and insurance to leading Wall Street firms.

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