GLOBAL BILLET WRAP: Prices up again amid thin supply, costlier scrap

The reduced availability of steel billet and increased prices for ferrous scrap resulted in the global steel billet market trending mostly upward during the week ended Friday March 9, Metal Bulletin has learnt.

CIS, Turkey, North Africa
CIS export billet prices continued to climb during the week, supported by strong demand, lower supply of the semi-finished material and rising scrap costs.

Mills were selling material mainly within the range of $540-550 per tonne fob Black Sea.

Turkey continued to be one of the most active destinations for CIS billet over the week. Russia’s Metalloinvest sold a cargo to the country within the range of $565-570 per tonne cfr, equivalent to $545-550 per tonne fob Black Sea.

Recent offers from CIS mills came in at $545-560 per tonne fob Black Sea, amid reduced availability.

Russia’s Abinsk Electric Steel Mill resumed operations, but no new orders for billet or finished long steel have been taken, a company source said.

Ukraine’s Elektrostal is also not offering any material at the moment due to tight supply of scrap feedstock in the country.

In Egypt’s billet import market, prices rose although demand stayed moderate.

CIS-origin billet was on offer in Egypt at $545-550 per tonne cfr, while buyers were bidding $525-530 per tonne cfr.

The biggest steel producer in Egypt, Ezz Steel, has increased its rebar price to E£12,226 ($693) per tonne ex-works including 14% VAT, from the previous E£11,970 per tonne ex-works.

Beshay Steel increased its rebar price during the week to E£12,426 per tonne ex-works, from the previous week’s E£12,180 per tonne ex-works, including 14% VAT.

In Turkey, strong demand, costlier scrap and thinning supply pushed up the prices of billet imports.

CIS suppliers raised their offers to $550-560 per tonne cfr, although Turkish customers were bidding only $540-545 per tonne cfr.

A number of cargoes were sold into Turkey around $550 per tonne cfr early last week, sources said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s domestic and export billet prices went up during the week. At least two steel mills were heard selling 15,000 tonnes of billet to local buyers at $585-590 per tonne ex-works.

Iran, Middle East
Bookings were heard concluded for Iran-origin exports at higher prices. And the uptrend persisted amid reduced availability of billet in the market.

Several cargoes of Iranian billet were reported sold to the Middle East and East Asia at $518-520 per tonne fob. A total of 40,000 tonnes of billet was also booked by one trader for sale to Oman at $520 per tonne fob southern ports of Iran.

Customers in Indonesia booked a cargo of Iranian billet at $550 per tonne cfr, equivalent to $520 per tonne fob southern ports of Iran.

Iranian mills were offering billet to the United Arab Emirates at $545-550 per tonne cfr. Oman-origin billet was on offer in the UAE at $555 per tonne cfr, with bids coming at $550 per tonne cfr.

In terms of rebar imports in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, there was no demand last week, and no new prices were heard.

Southeast Asia, China
China bucked the global uptrend with its domestic billet market weakening. Falling billet prices and big losses in the futures market pushed China’s domestic and export rebar prices down during the week.

Billet was traded at 3,630 yuan ($574) per tonne including VAT in Tangshan on March 9, down by 70 yuan per tonne from Thursday.

Chinese mills kept their rebar offers flat at $585-600 per tonne fob China on Friday. Buyers lowered their bids by $10 per tonne to $560-565 per tonne fob on seeing the drop in China’s domestic prices.

A deal involving several thousand tonnes of rebar was concluded at $570 per tonne cfr Singapore on a theoretical weight basis, equivalent to $565 per tonne fob China on an actual weight basis. This transaction was partially responsible for buyers’ lower bids.

“China will have more chances to export [rebar] in the week [beginning March 12] because its export prices have fallen further to track the domestic market losses. Other suppliers, such as Turkey, are offering rebar at very high prices,” an export trader in eastern China said.

In the Southeast Asia billet import market, limited offers and thinner trading activity resulted in prices edging up during the week.

Most of the cargoes booked by Southeast Asian customers were bound for the Philippines, with Indonesian buyers staying on the market sidelines during the week because they still could not accept the higher offers, sources said.

Deals involving Russian and Middle Eastern cargoes were heard concluded at $570-575 per tonne cfr Manila during the week ended March 9.

China restarted its billet exports to the region during the week, which resulted in some buyers not submitting bids because they believed that offers from other countries would soon fall to match Chinese offer levels, traders in Asia said.

A position cargo of India-origin billet was heard offered at $575 per tonne cfr Manila.

Vlada Novokreshchenova in Dnepr, Jessica Zong in Shanghai, Felipe Peroni in Sao Paulo, Serife Durmus in Bursa and Cem Turken in Mugla contributed to this report.