GLOBAL BILLET WRAP: Prices continue to fall, China bucks trend

The downtrend in the global billet market continued over the past week due to weak demand, except in China, in line with the weakening Turkish scrap import market.

In the domestic market, Chinese billet prices pushed up slightly throughout the week.

At 3pm Shanghai time on Friday November 10, the market ended the week with prices up by 80 yuan per tonne from the previous Friday, reaching 3,720 yuan ($561) per tonne, including VAT, in Tangshan.

Southeast Asia
The billet offers from Japan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India were heard in Southeast Asia at $495-500 per tonne cfr over the week.

However, there were no bookings heard done in Philippines and Indonesia due to falling finished steel export prices and customers preferring to wait and see before buying.

Next week, the 31st ASEAN summit will be held in Mania, Philippines, where almost all of the Filipino customers are based, so that market will be mostly inactive, according to the sources.

Market participants said the workable level for billet imports in Southeast Asia was $490-495 per tonne cfr.

Market participant were expecting the prices to go down in Iran too, Metal Bulletin was told.

Interfer sold 20,000 tonnes of 130mm billet in to Thailand on Friday, November 3 at below $480 per tonne cif Koh Si Chang, although several sources thought the price was closer to $478 per tonne.

A source in Indonesia said he had heard offers for Iranian billet at around $480 per tonne and deals at around $480 per tonne cfr in the region.

Market participants said they expect Iranian billet prices to drop $5 per tonne further in the coming weeks.

CIS, Turkey, Egypt
In the CIS market, billet offers fell to $460-470 per tonne fob Black Sea throughout the week.

Several cargoes were rumored to be booked in North Africa and Turkey at $455-460 per tonne fob Black Sea.

One source said that $450-455 per tonne levels was achievable, but said the market has been full of “desperate offers”, rather than deals.

Turkish billet prices dropped as the week progressed, in line with softening scrap import values, and demand was also poor sources said.

Suppliers in the CIS region were offering material at $480-485 per tonne cfr Turkey, but could only sell 10,000 tonnes at that price at the beginning of the week.

Offers then fell to around $475 per tonne cfr, and Metal Bulletin heard of a few deals at that level.

Meanwhile, a buyer in Turkey booked a billet cargo from Brazil at $475 per tonne cfr.

Demand for billet was not strong, however, as the mills were struggling with finished steel exports, sources said.

“To avoid the import tax on billet, Turkish mills must export rebar [to the same tonnage as] they imported billet. And mills prefer not to buy much billet [at the moment] due to weak finished steel demand,” a Turkish source said.

Billet import prices into Egypt also fell over the week, although several new deals have been heard. Meanwhile, local rebar prices remained unchanged.

Iran sold 20,000 tonnes of billet at $480 per tonne cfr to Egypt, and deals from the CIS region were heard at $490-495 per tonne cfr.

A trader said that 15,000 tonnes of billet was booked from Ukraine at $505 per tonne cfr, but other market participants said that this price was too high for the current market.

CIS-origin billet was offered to Egypt at $490-500 per tonne cfr.

Middle East
Billet import markets in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have remained weak over the past seven days, with buyers preferring to postpone bookings because they expect more price cuts.

Saudi Arabia offered billet at $490 per tonne cfr to the UAE, with no prices being heard from other sources.

Buyers expect the prices to fall, and still prefer to wait before placing orders, a market participant said.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for UAE billet imports was, therefore, unchanged at $480-490 per tonne cfr on November 7.