The market was affected by rising global ferrous scrap prices due to better demand for finished steel products.
CIS, Middle East and North Africa
Prices of billet from the Commonwealth of Independent States region continued to show an upward trend last week as sparse offers were heard within the range of $525-530 per tonne fob Black Sea, despite the fact that most of the region's mills remained out of the market.
This compares with offers at $510-515 per tonne fob Black Sea during the previous week.
Mills had sold large volumes of billet in previous weeks but are now holding back offers until there is a clear direction in the Chinese market, hence the reduced volume of offers reported.
Turkey was the most active buying market during the week as clients were accepting higher prices amid increasing costs of scrap.
Bookings of CIS-origin billet were heard at $525-535 per tonne cfr in the country early in the week, but late last week a cargo was sold at $540 per tonne cfr - the equivalent to $520-525 per tonne fob Black Sea.
New bids from Turkey were heard as high as $545 per tonne.
In Egypt, buying activity was also low as the local rebar market was reportedly weak, with domestic prices stagnant for several weeks.
Offers from the CIS were made at $530-540 per tonne cfr, but customers were not ready to pay such prices.
Egyptian customers expect domestic rebar prices to increase in the next week, which might help reverse the low billet demand.
In Iran, recent offers of billet for April shipment were made at $510-520 per tonne fob, up by $10-15 from the levels heard until early last week.
Customers accepted higher prices due to the improving mood in the billet market - deals were heard close to $510 per tonne fob.
The latest available March-produced billet was sold at $495-500 per tonne fob, sources told Metal Bulletin, adding that countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were the principal destination for the material.
In addition, a 70,000-tonne cargo of May-delivery billet was sold by an Iranian mill to the same destination at around $500 per tonne fob. The price was considered to be $10 lower than normal due to better payment conditions, according to a well-informed source.
Another cargo of Iranian billet for prompt shipment was reported booked at a price close to $510 per tonne fob.
Iranian export billet prices closed the week ended February 21 at $495-510 per tonne fob, up by $5-15 from the previous week.
Offers from Iranian mills also reached the United Arab Emirates at $530-535 per tonne cfr, but no bookings were heard as buyers had sufficient inventories.
In Pakistan, rebar producer Amreli Steels will increase its rebar production capacity to 750,000 tonnes per year over the next two years, the company said on February 20.
The company produces 180,000 tpy of rebar and 200,000 tpy of billet at its facilities in the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, Karachi.
In China, billet prices fluctuated after the market's return from the holiday amid rumors of high inventory levels in the rebar spot market.
Billet prices were traded at 3,600 yuan per tonne ex-works in China's northern Tangshan province, from 3,610 yuan per tonne on October 16. The price had fallen by 30 yuan per tonne late on Thursday before rising 20 yuan per tonne on Friday.
Import prices of billet in the region were flat last week at $535-550 per tonne cfr amid lack of trades due to the holiday in China.
Offers from the CIS were around $550 per tonne cfr, but buyers wanted to pay $540-545 per tonne cfr.
No firm offers for billet were heard from China, Taiwan, India and the Middle East over the week ended February 20. But there were bids from buyers in Indonesia and the Philippines amid a slowdown in their domestic downstream markets.
Vlada Novokreshchenova in Dnepr, Jessica Zong in Shanghai, Fiona Lam in Singapore, Serife Durmus in Bursa and Cem Turken in Mugla contributed to this report.
Prices in most locations moved up this week, with Chinese mills out of the market due to the weeklong Lunar New Year and continued strong scrap prices.