Roman engineers erected marvelous aqueducts that are still in use today, but someone forgot to place the all-important keystone into this modern arch.
Corroborating Peabody's observation of a rapid reduction in stockpiles starting in December, Arch estimates the peak U.S. coal stockpile at a monstrous (and all-time high) 207 million tons. In December, normalizing power demand and weather patterns, alongside rising natural gas prices, contributed to a rapid 12 million-ton reversal from the peak.
Also during December, Arch began to realize anticipated synergies at the world's largest coal mine. With the Jacob's Ranch operations -- acquired from Rio Tinto
Adapting to the permanent structural upheaval under way within the dynamics of the global coal market, wherein the Asia Pacific trade will increasingly dominate global demand, Arch Coal is positioning itself for greater emphasis upon servicing seaborne coal markets going forward. The company has scored a key leasehold at Otter Creek in the northern PRB region of Montana, which is situated more favorably to supply a seaborne trade. Arch Coal expects total U.S. coal exports to increase by at least 10 million tons during 2010.
In the meantime, I see too many solid opportunities within the sector to recommend Arch shares at this time. I stand firmly behind my selection of the five top coal picks, which itself is topped by the king of coal. Following a roughly 20% correction from its high on Jan. 11, even the Market Vectors Coal ETF
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Fool contributor Christopher Barker wishes he could squeeze coal into diamonds. He can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna.He tweets. He owns shares of Arch Coal and Peabody Energy. The Motley Fool scrubs its disclosure policy before releasing it into the atmosphere.