In Southeast Asia, prices strengthened amid tight supply, while export prices out of Turkey, India and the CIS region remained largely stable over the past week.
Meanwhile, billet prices in the import markets of Latin America, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, and in the Iranian export market, all went down this week.
Middle East-North Africa, CIS
Iranian steel billet export prices fell by $5-10 per tonne over the week ended February 7, with deals being reported at the lower prices.
One source said that a deal for Khouzestan Steel billet was concluded at $495 per tonne fob on February 6.
“The billet market pushed up a bit [on Monday after weakening in the preceding days] amid low inventories of the product at re-rolling mills in the overseas markets,” a source told Metal Bulletin on February 6.
There were two other Iranian billet cargoes heard sold, to Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries and to Southeast Asia, at $486-493 per tonne fob.
The billet prices in the UAE weakened this week.
Iranian mills were offering billet to the UAE at $510-520 per tonne cfr, but no major deals have been heard since several cargoes from the same source were booked in January.
Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for UAE billet imports was $510-515 per tonne cfr on February 6, down from $520-530 per tonne cfr on January 23.
Steel billet import prices in Egypt narrowed upward slightly over the past week, with new offers heard, but demand for the material was weak.
“There is no buying because rebar prices are unchanged in Egypt and stocks are high,” a trader said.
“There is not much demand because billet prices keep increasing while rebar prices are stable. And stocks are sufficient. The market will remain silent for another week, I believe,” another market participant said.
Iranian billet, meanwhile, was on offer at $517-525 per tonne cfr, but a trader believed $510-515 per tonne cfr to be the workable price for billet imports into Egypt.
In Turkey, imported billet prices have gone down slightly over the past week, while domestic and export prices have remained stable.
Turkish customers slowed their demand for CIS-origin billet after booking a few cargoes at $505 per tonne cfr. The CIS suppliers then reduced their offers to $505-520 per tonne, although Turkish buyers were seeking $490-500 per tonne, Metal Bulletin was told.
Meanwhile, domestic and export billet prices in Turkey remained largely stable over the week.
Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for domestic billet was unchanged week-on-week at $525-535 per tonne ex-works, while the weekly price assessment for billet exports out of Turkey was also flat at $530-535 per tonne fob.
The downward trend in the CIS export steel billet market slowed down at the beginning of the week, with deal prices remaining largely unchanged week-on-week.
Ukrainian steelmaker Metinvest offered billet at $490 per tonne fob Black Sea late last week, sources told Metal Bulletin.
Market participants reported several bookings done in the Turkish and East Asian markets around this price, with Metinvest having closed its February order book.
At the same time, Turkish customers were bidding around $500 per tonne cfr for CIS-origin billet, or $480-485 per tonne fob Black Sea, sources said.
Another Ukrainian mill, Elektrostal, was heard offering its material at $485-490 per tonne fob Azov Sea on pre-payment terms, which would be equivalent to $495-500 per tonne fob Black Sea without pre-payment.
Fellow Ukrainian supplier ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih (AMKR) was reported to have sold several billet cargoes totaling 25,000 tonnes to Latin America at $510-515 per tonne fob Black Sea.
“AMKR has not succumbed to the downtrend in the market, despite the news of decreasing scrap and billet prices,” a company source told Metal Bulletin.
Meanwhile, Russian suppliers have opened sales for March-produced billet, asking $500 per tonne fob Black Sea. But no new bookings of Russia-origin billet have been heard in the market so far.
“February volumes are sold out so mills still have time to sell March output if the market situation changes,” a market source said. “I do not think the price will go below $490 per tonne fob Black Sea.”
But there were some who disagreed, saying that a price of $500 per tonne fob Black Sea was “wishful thinking” and noting that the mills are ready to accept $480 per tonne fob Black Sea now.
Tight supply resulted in import prices strengthening for billet in Southeast Asia over the past week.
Deals involving Middle Eastern and Japanese cargoes were heard concluded around $537-540 per tonne cfr to Indonesia and the Philippines.
An India-based trader said that a few CIS mills “are overly eager to sell to Southeast Asia to reduce inventory pressure, so that they won’t need to lower prices much in the Mediterranean market.”
No offers were heard from India due to high domestic rebar prices in the country this week.
Offers from Taiwan were heard at $540-545 per tonne cfr, while Japanese cargoes were offered around $535-540 per tonne cfr.
Chinese mills largely stayed out of the export market after abruptly exiting a week earlier amid improving domestic prices in China. Three Chinese offers were made at $545-560 per tonne cfr over the week.
“The stronger yuan pushed up their offers,” a Singapore-based trader said.
But no Chinese cargoes changed hands because they were too expensive for Southeast Asian buyers, who remained wary of procuring from China due to fears of non-delivery.
Buyers in Southeast Asia indicated their interest at $530-540 per tonne cfr amid slow downstream local markets.
Major billet producers kept the price of the semi-finished product unchanged at 3,610 yuan ($568) per tonne on February 7.
The inventory for the product in Tangshan had piled up to 790,000 tonnes by Friday, up by 70,000 tonnes from a week ago, a billet trader in Tangshan said, quoting a local industry information provider.
No offers for billet were heard this week, however. Export offers could be around $530 per tonne fob, market sources told Metal Bulletin.
Jessica Zong in Shanghai, Fiona Lam in Singapore, Serife Durmus in Bursa, Vlada Novokreshchenova in Dnepr and Felipe Peroni in São Paulo contributed to this report.
Steel billet prices in the global markets went down slightly or remained stable, except in Southeast Asia, during the working week from Monday February 2 to Friday February 9.