Asian slab import prices down on coronavirus uncertainty

Import prices for steel slab in Southeast and East Asia declined over the week to March 9 amid growing uncertainty in the steel markets with the continued global spread of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel slab imports, cfr Southeast Asia and East Asia was $410-420 per tonne on Monday March 9, down by $15 per tonne from $425-435 per tonne on March 2.

During the week, a major Russian mill sold 40,000 tonnes of May-shipment steel slab at $420 per tonne cfr Indonesia.

A second transaction involving slab from a producer in eastern Ukraine was heard at $420 per tonne cfr Indonesia, although this transaction was excluded from the price assessment because the information could not be confirmed by the time of publication and the mill is controlled by pro-Russia rebels and its products are typically priced lower than material from other sources.

A Japanese steelmaker was heard to have offered slab at $415-420 per tonne cfr Southeast Asia, while Russian slab was available at $420-430 per tonne cfr East Asia, Fastmarkets was told.

“There are not many offers in the market and even fewer buyers’ inquiries because of weakening flat-steel demand and prices,” a trader in Taiwan said.

Buyers in Southeast Asia indicated their interest at $405-410 per tonne cfr in the week, Fastmarkets heard.

Buyers expect prices to fall even further although producers are unlikely to slash their prices just yet, an industry source in Southeast Asia said.