Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for containerized cargoes of steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20), US material import, cfr main port Taiwan was at $440 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged day on day but up by $35-40 per tonne from $400-405 per tonne a week ago

The shortage of containerized ferrous scrap has prompted buyers to bid for bulk cargoes from the United States' West Coast. However, major scrapyards did not offer such cargoes.

"Major suppliers in the US are still in wait-and-see positions, and are not willing to release bulk cargoes volumes until January," a steel mill source in Taiwan told Fastmarkets this week.

Buyers deem bulk cargoes a more economical supply source due to the narrowing premium they command over containerized cargoes.

Transactions in Taiwan spiked dramatically from the start of the week, shooting up to $428-430 per tonne cfr Taiwan on Monday before edging up to $432-435 per tonne cfr Taiwan on Tuesday.

Transactions reached $440 per tonne cfr Taiwan by Wednesday but buying interest dimmed from Thursday after steel and iron ore prices in China started to fall.

"Buyers have not been conscientiously asking for offers from late Wednesday and Thursday after seeing what happened to prices in China. Some are worried that there may be drastic price changes during the holiday period," a Taiwanese trader told Fastmarkets on Thursday.

There were also more offers in the spot market from late Wednesday. Sellers who had been spooked by the falling prices in China had started to offer volumes rather than take the risk of having prices fall sharply.

"There is at least triple the volumes seen in the spot market now compared to just yesterday," a buyer source in Taiwan told Fastmarkets on Thursday December 24.

Containerized scrap prices have been supported by increases in competing Japanese scrap prices.

Offers for Japanese H1&H2 (50:50) were at $455-460 per tonne cfr Taiwan by Tuesday, with bids at $450 per tonne cfr Taiwan. Transactions concluded at $453 per tonne cfr Taiwan on Tuesday and at $459 per tonne cfr Taiwan on Wednesday.

Offers for H1&H2 (50:50) increased to $465 per tonne cfr Taiwan late Wednesday.

A bulk cargo of Japanese Shindachi scrap was also sold at $487 per tonne cfr Taiwan on around Tuesday or Wednesday.

Major Japanese mini-mill Tokyo Steel increased its scrap purchase prices twice this week, marking its 10th time in 23 days. It increased its bids by ¥2,000 ($19.32) per tonne at Utsunomiya steel works in its latest announcement.

The producer had just hiked purchase prices two days ago and is now paying ¥43,500-44,500 per tonne at Tahara steel works and ¥43,500 per tonne at Okayama steel works. It is also paying ¥41,000 per tonne at its Kyushu and Takamatsu steel works.