One of the reasons for the rising prices was the strong demand in the Chinese domestic market over the past week, which has also driven up prices for non-China-origin material in the region.
Billet prices in the Chinese local market were 3,400 yuan ($501) per tonne at 3pm on Friday July 14, which was 120 yuan ($18) per tonne higher than last Friday.
The price of 3,400 yuan per tonne for domestic billet in China was a five-year high. However, market participants were less confident about further price rises.
No billet export offers out of China were reported this week because of the strength of domestic demand.
Billet prices in Southeast Asia continued to rise over the past week, supported by the absence of China from the market and global price growth for the semi-finished product.
The Philippines remained the most active market for billet, with one source describing it as “the market ready to pay the highest price in Asia today”.
A cargo of CIS-origin material was heard booked in Manila through a trader at $451 per tonne cfr, while several cargoes of Japanese billet were heard booked at $445 per tonne cfr.
Customers in the country were ready to pay $447 per tonne cfr later in the week, while some sources believed that $450-455 per tonne cfr could be workable today in the Philippines.
Russian material from ports in the country’s Far East province, and CIS material from the Black Sea, was heard offered at $455-460 per tonne cfr to The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, Metal Bulletin has learnt.
Taiwan and Thailand were heard offering billet to the region at $440-445 per tonne fob, which is around $460 per tonne cfr in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Indian billet offers in Indonesia were heard around $445 per tonne cfr. Iranian billet offers were $440-445 per tonne cfr, while material from the Gulf Co-operation Council nations (GCC) was offered around $440 per tonne cfr.
However, no bookings were heard, as customers were generally bidding $430-435 per tonne cfr for the material, with the highest bid heard at $440 per tonne cfr.
Some sources believed that the Indonesian market has sufficient stocks to wait and see which way the market will move.
CIS, Middle East-North Africa
CIS export billet prices continued to rise over the past week, driven by the strong demand in the Egyptian market.
Egypt is currently enjoying buoyant long steel demand and price growth, and its producers, which are protected by an import duty, have been ready to replenish their billet stocks at the higher prices.
Ukraine’s Elektrostal was heard selling some 10,000 tonnes of billet at $418 per tonne fob Azov Sea, which would be equivalent to $423 per tonne fob Black Sea.
Billet offers from the CIS region were generally within the range of $420-430 per tonne fob Black Sea this week.
CIS region offers into Turkey were heard at $435-440 per tonne cfr, while market participants believed that the price of $435 per tonne cfr was workable for prompt-shipment material.
However, there is not much product available for prompt shipment, since Egypt was buying a lot of such material earlier.
CIS mills were offering material that will be produced in the second half of August.
Turkish domestic and export billet prices have also strengthened in line with rising imported scrap values, while the price of imported billet has been comparatively stable over the past week.
Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for domestic billet in Turkey was $450-460 per tonne ex-works, up from the $428-450 per tonne of last week.
“Billet prices are still rising. The main reason looks like the increasing scrap prices. We expect this trend to continue,” a Turkish source said.
Billet import prices into the UAE increased this week, but buying was weak as buyers preferred to wait for new domestic rebar prices.
Iranian billet was on offer at $410-420 per tonne cfr, and billet from GCC member countries was on offer at $420 per tonne cfr.
Vlada Novokreshchenova in Dnepr, Jessica Zong in Shanghai, Suresh Nair in Mumbai, Serife Durmus in Bursa and Felipe Peroni in São Paulo contributed to this report.
Steel billet prices in the global markets remained firm as demand in Asia remained strong during the working week from Monday July 10 to Friday July 14.