Ukraine's Metinvest sold 456,000 tonnes of slab in the April-June quarter, up 50.5% year on year against 303,000 tonnes in the same quarter of 2017.

The company's main target markets are Italy, Turkey and Hungary.

“In the second quarter of 2018, conditions in the slab market improved [for us] compared to the same period in 2017 [due to the] reallocation of [some] Brazilian slab volumes from Metinvest’s target markets to the United States,” the company told Metal Bulletin on Friday August 17.

In early May, the Brazilian steel sector agreed to abide by US government quotas for steel shipments to avoid the 25% import tariffs arising from president Donald Trump's Section 232 investigation.

Another positive factor for Metinvest’s sales was “reduced presence of Russian steelmakers in the market amid scheduled maintenances at their sites.”

Semi-finished steel output at Russia’s Evraz was down by 14.5% year on year to 2.50 million tonnes from 2.93 million tonnes in the first half of 2017 amid modernization works at one of the blast furnaces at its Nizhny Tagil Metallurgical Plant.

Slab sales accounted for 962,000 tonnes of the total, 14% lower year on year compared with the 1.12 million tonnes shipped in the first half of 2017.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for CIS export slab averaged $538.85 per tonne fob Black Sea in the second quarter of 2018, up by $132.89 compared with the average of $405.96 per tonne fob in the same quarter in 2017.

For the third quarter of 2018 Metinvest expects to slab sales in the free market to fall due to scheduled maintenance of the blast furnace at its Azovstal Iron & Steel Works, although it did not give an estimate of the volumes involved.