GLOBAL BILLET WRAP: Holiday breaks keep global billet markets quiet

The global billet markets generally remained silent during the working week from Tuesday January 2 to Friday January 5 amid the New Year holidays.

Billet prices were 3,630 yuan ($559) per tonne at 3pm on January 5, down by 40 yuan per tonne from last Friday.

A local trader revealed that Tangshan has around 300,000 tonnes of billet stock, which is putting pressure on billet prices.

“Billet prices are likely to drop further due to the high inventories [in Tangshan], which are around 300,000 tonnes,” a trader in Northern China said.

Export market participants expect that $520 per tonne fob would be a workable price for Tangshan mills, but no deals have been heard, Metal Bulletin was told.

Southeast Asia
China-origin steel billet is being offered in spot markets across Asia after domestic prices in China slumped, sources told Metal Bulletin.

“It has been a while since China-origin billet has been offered to import markets. Billet exports have started again as there are more favorable prices in overseas markets,” a trader based in Southeast Asia said.

Market sources said that there were China-origin billet cargoes being offered at $520-530 per tonne fob China to Asian import markets, with buyers indicating their purchasing interests at $510-520 per tonne fob China.

Buyers and traders across Asia have received offers for these China-origin billet shipments. Some quantities have been offered at $550-560 per tonne into Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

But no deals for China-origin billet have been heard so far, with buyers in Indonesia and the Philippines staying on the sidelines.

“The new year has just started and many buyers are not willing to commit to any cargoes yet. They still want to wait for a clearer price direction before entering the market again,” a second Southeast Asia trader said.

The current market situation has reversed from just a month ago, when Chinese buyers were sourcing at least 70,000 tonnes of billet from Iran, the Middle East and other steel-producing areas across Asia due to high domestic prices.

Middle East-North Africa, Turkey, CIS
Iranian mills were offering billet at $535-540 per tonne cfr to the UAE, while billet from Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries was on offer at $535 per tonne cfr.

About 30,000 tonnes of billet was booked to the UAE from Iran at $509-510 per tonne cfr.

“Prices will increase,” a market participant said. “Saudi [Arabian] mills are hungry for billet [so] it will be $545-550 per tonne soon,” a market participant said.

Meanwhile, Turkish domestic and export billet prices have increased slightly in line with costlier imported scrap, while billet import prices were unchanged this week.

However, the market was not very strong due to the heavy winter conditions and holiday absences, according to the sources.

One steel mill in the Iskenderun region was heard selling some billet to the local market at $550 per tonne ex-works earlier in the week.

The CIS market was quiet due to holidays and no fresh deals were heard from the region this week.

Egypt’s import billet market was also slow in the week ended January 4.

“The market is so quiet [because of] the holiday season,” a trader told Metal Bulletin.

Jessica Zong in Shanghai, Paul Lim in Singapore, Serife Durmus in Bursa and Suresh Nair in Mumbai contributed to this report.

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