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Exports totaled 1,605,171 tonnes in December, up 16.1% from 1,382,778 tonnes the previous month, according to the latest US Commerce Department data.

It was the first increase since August, when exports rose 7.4% to 2,080,456 tonnes, although they still trailed by 3.4% the year-earlier total of 1,661,488 tonnes.

Malaysia’s intake from US ferrous scrap suppliers soared to 153,710 tonnes in December from 31,658 tonnes in November and just 1,273 tonnes a year earlier, and shipments to China climbed to 198,856 tonnes, up 93.4% from 102,807 tonnes in November and 5.6% ahead of 188,371 tonnes in December 2011.

Also registering gains in December were Taiwan, which took 270,646 tonnes, up 17.5% from 230,257 tonnes in November; Canada at 75,118 tonnes (up 32.5% from 56,694 tonnes); and Mexico at 76,099 tonnes (up 15.6% from 65,851 tonnes).

While Turkey remained the top buyer in December, its intake of US ferrous scrap fell to 415,514 tonnes, down 11.6% from 470,279 tonnes the previous month and 11.9% lower than 471,681 tonnes a year earlier.

South Korea, a key player in the export market, took 94,468 tonnes in December, down 14.7% from 110,799 tonnes in November and 36.9% below 149,603 tonnes in December 2011, after peaking at 352,106 tonnes in March.