GLOBAL BILLET WRAP: No clear price direction amid weak trading

Steel billet prices in China continued to recover last week amid supply concerns, while prices for CIS-origin material edged down with few trades having been reported.

In the ferrous scrap market, prices in Turkey declined at the beginning of the week due to past deals, and prices remained mostly stable throughout the week on lower buying activity.

Prices in China’s northern Tangshan region increased by 110 yuan per tonne this week ($17), to 3,660 yuan per tonne.

Most of the increase occurred over before the close of play on Monday 16, with a growth of 70 yuan per tonne in the price of Chinese material.

Market participants were concerned with supply reductions, with production limits encouraged to ensure air quality for the week-long 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which started in Beijing on Wednesday October 18.

Despite the rise in billet prices, the local long steel market remained weak, since demand was falling demand due to colder weather.

On the export side, Chinese mills were offering billet at $505-510 per tonne fob, but no deals were reported this week. Buyers were willing to pay less than $500 per tonne fob for the material, sources told Metal Bulletin.

Southeast Asia, India
Early last week, billet prices in Southeast Asia fell by $5-10 to $520-530 per tonne cfr, as lower priced cargoes were available from Brazil and Iran.

Market participants were paying close attention to the developments in Chinese future markets, because many traders had taken short positions in previous weeks.

There were rumours of a deal closed in Indonesia at less than $520 per tonne cfr.

Meanwhile, in India, export prices remained unchanged at $465-475 per tonne fob.

CIS, Middle East, North Africa
Trading activity was weak in the CIS region last week due to a disparity between offers and bids, and while buyers and sellers were waiting for the outcome of the congress in China.

Offers in the region were mainly within the range $490-505 per tonne fob, although Russia’s Abinsk Electric Steel Works continued offering material at $520 per tonne fob Black Sea, although the price was not considered viable by market participants.

Prices in the CIS region edged down by $4 to $490 per tonne fob Black Sea early on October 16.

In Morocco and Algeria, CIS billet was available at $525 per tonne cfr (equivalent to $492-493 per tonne fob), but clients were willing to pay around $515 per tonne cfr.

In Egypt, offers were heard at $505-510 per tonne cfr (or $485-490 per tonne fob). Customers were ready to pay a maximum $505 per tonne cfr, as a recent deal for Ukrainian material had been heard in the country at that price.

A trader in Egypt said that buying interest was weak last week.

In Turkey, there was no appetite for imported material because of a decrease in domestic prices.

Turkish long steel producer Kardemir opened its domestic billet sales at $495-510 per tonne ex-works on October 18 and had sold 90,500 tonnes by the following day, sources told Metal Bulletin.

In comparison, offers from CIS producers in the region came in at $500-515 per tonne cfr.

Vlada Novokreshchenova in Dnepr, Jessica Zong in Shanghai, Cem Turken in Mugla, Paul Lim in Singapore and Suresh Nair in Mumbai contributed to this report.

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