STEEL WEEK IN BRIEF: Iron ore, seaborne coking coal extend losses, EU rebar export offers up, ThyssenKrupp/Tata sign MoU

Metal Bulletin reviews the major stories affecting the steel market over the past week.

Seaborne coking coal and iron ore prices fell again over the past week as market participants awaited the impact of winter production cuts on demand for the steelmaking raw materials.

Metal Bulletin’s cfr China Premium Hard Coking Coal Index stood at $199.87 per tonne on Friday September 22, down 5% from last Friday.

Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index stood at $63.56 per tonne cfr China on Friday, down from $72.13 per tonne per tonne at the end of the previous week.

Turkish domestic scrap prices also continued to fall as demand for the material was weak and stocks high. 

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for domestic auto bundle (DKP grade) scrap in Turkey was TRY1,100-1,220 ($320-354) per tonne delivered, down from TRY1,150-1,260 per tonne last week.

China’s largest ferrous scrap consumer Shagang trimmed its purchase price for the steelmaking raw material for the second time in less than a week, amid a softening steel market.

Steel
European rebar sellers raised their export offer prices over the past week amid strengthening demand from Algerian importers.

Metal Bulletin’s export price assessment for Southern European rebar narrowed upwards by €5 per tonne week-on-week to €485-500 ($581-599) per tonne fob main ports, with offers and deals heard from Italy, Spain, and Greece

East China’s steel major Shagang lowered the price of its rebar for late September and raised its wire rod prices, while Turkey’s Kardemir opened its domestic long steel bar and billet sales at higher prices in the past week.

US-based Keystone Steel & Wire raised prices for all wire rod products by $40 per ton ($2 per hundredweight), for all shipments from October 2, driven by the graphite electrodes shortage.

Meanwhile, the USA's biggest steelmaker, Nucor, lowered its base prices for most beam and merchant bar products on September 18, in response to low-priced imports.

Turkish long steel export prices continued to rise with stronger demand over the past week, but were expected to cool off in line with the fall in scrap prices.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for rebar exports out of Turkey was $550-560 per tonne fob on an actual weight basis, up from $545-550 per tonne.

China’s plate export prices retreated over the past week after a further softening of the country’s domestic market.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for November shipments of commercial-grade, chromium-added steel plate was $550-555 per tonne fob, down $5-10 per tonne.

In contrast, China’s export prices for cold rolled coil (CRC) and hot dipped galvanized (HDG) coil continued to strengthen, although the rate of increase slowed amid weakness in the country’s domestic market.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for November shipments of SPCC 1mm CRC was $615-620 per tonne fob, up $5 per tonne from a week earlier.

China’s export prices for hot rolled coil (HRC) remained strong after 15 weeks of increases, although they appeared to be losing some momentum amid recent weakness in the country’s domestic market.

Metal Bulletin’s price assessment for November shipments of commercial-grade, boron-containing SS400 HRC was $580-600 per tonne fob, narrowing upwards by $5 per tonne from a week earlier.

European domestic HRC prices were supported by a lack of competitive import offers over the past week.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for domestic HRC in Northern Europe was unchanged at €520-540 per tonne ex-works, unchanged over the week.

Domestic prices for HDG in the European Union moved up slightly, with scope for further increases due to the impact of EU anti-dumping measures.

CIS-origin HRC and CRC prices dropped over the past week in the wake of falling global raw materials prices and the weakening of Chinese domestic steel values.

Meanwhile, Brazilian flat steel producer Usiminas will raise its prices for most flat steel products by 10.20% on October 5, due to higher international prices.

Trade policy
The US Department of Commerce has set preliminarily subsidy margins on imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China and India, with a double-digit subsidy margin on the Chinese material and a single-digit margin on stock from India.

In a submission to the US government, the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI) has alleged that China has continued to disregard its commitments as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) more than 15 years after joining the trade body.

And US anti-dumping duties on imports of seamless steel pipe from Japan and Romania will remain in place after the latest sunset review by the USA's International Trade Commission.

Meanwhile, the US Cold Finished Steel Bar Institute urged president Donald Trump to take “early action” to impose the kind of import barriers allowed by the country’s Section 232 legislation.

Around the world
ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel Europe signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on merging their European flat steel operations, with a review of the merged entity’s production network slated for 2020.

The German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) is investigating seven flat steel companies based in the country – including ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp – over possible anti-competitive practices.

The global shortage of carbon graphite electrodes used in steelmaking furnaces is threatening to “strangle EU steel production”, the European steel association, Eurofer, has said.

The damage caused to the southern states of the USA by hurricanes Harvey and Irma is unlikely to provide a big boost to US steel demand any time soon, according to the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Meanwhile, Mesabi Metallics has scaled back plans to build what could have been the world’s biggest plant for the production of direct reduced iron (DRI) and hot briquetted iron (HBI) on Minnesota’s Iron Range in the wake of a legal tussle with Cleveland-Cliffs.

ArcelorMittal USA plans to idle its Conshohocken plate rolling mill in Pennsylvania, within the next year due to competition from imports and limited consumer demand.

Anil Agarwal, the Vedanta Resources chairman and Indian industrials magnate, will invest up to £1.50 billion ($2.02 billion) in rival metals and mining company Anglo American, adding to a stake acquired in March.

And finally, US billionaire Thomas Clarke’s MAGA Steel remains in the running to buy Canadian flat-rolled steelmaker Algoma.

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