SOUTH ASIA STEEL SCRAP: Market ‘sleeping’ in poor trading conditions

The price of shredded steel scrap imported into India and Pakistan moved down in the week to Friday February 5 as a result of poor trading conditions, sources have told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets calculated its steel scrap, shredded, index, import, cfr Nhava Sheva, India, at $408.73 per tonne on Friday, down from $415.83 per tonne one week earlier.

A deal was heard at the start of the week at $410 per tonne for shredded, but by the end of the working week offers of $405 per tonne were being ignored by buyers.

This compared with a deal level of $408-420 per tonne last week.

Some market participants were not offering any material to the market this week, while buyers were also not keen on purchasing.

Trading this week was affected by the continuing struggle to obtain shipping containers, the fall in international scrap prices, and the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday. The Indian market was reported to be “sleeping” while the rest of Asia was “meditating” this week, traders told Fastmarkets, referring to the lack of trading activity.

There were no shipping opportunities on any routes, Fastmarkets heard from one trader, who was struggling to get hold of containers and hoped to get some by late March. Another trader said that availability of boxes was “patchy.”

“Turkey may come back [to the market] next week, before China wakes up. It’s too quiet - India has gone to sleep. We are not getting containers [so] it’s a wait-and-watch scenario,” a seller said.

“Because of the Chinese New Year, the markets are directionless,” a second trader said. “Turkey is not buying and China is closed… Everyone else [has] no clue what they’re doing. Everything is in limbo.”

Trading remained at subdued levels due to negative sentiment globally resulting from the continued downtrend in the Turkish scrap market, which is the trendsetter and the largest importer.

The daily index for steel scrap HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix), North Europe origin, cfr Turkey, fell to $381.84 per tonne on February 5, from $407.95 per tonne on January 29, and down from a multi-year high of $475.99 per tonne on January 14.

The weekly price assessment for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix), import, cfr Nhava Sheva, India, was $320-340 per tonne on Friday, narrowing downward from $320-360 per tonne the previous week.

HMS prices moved downward in line with the falls in Indian shredded prices and the HMS prices on international markets.

A UK offer was heard at $320 per tonne this week, while a Middle East HMS offer at $340 per tonne was also heard.

“There have been no bookings done and sentiment is negative due to the price decline,” a mill source said.

News of a cut to India’s import duty on scrap did not help to revitalize the market this week.

“India is not buying. The import duty cut should build competition between domestic [material] and imports. Everyone is expecting that, by the Chinese New Year, we will be seeing the bottom for prices,” a buyer said.

“It [will be] encouraging, once the market reacts and China comes back into the picture,” the seller said. “It’s difficult to gauge. The market could bounce up by $30-50 per tonne if China comes back. The bottom has [been reached].”

On the Pakistan market, prices also trended downward, affected not only by the fall in the international market but by a drop in finished steel demand in the country.

Fastmarkets calculated its weekly steel scrap, shredded, index, import, cfr Port Qasim, Pakistan, at $407.79 per tonne on Friday, down from $422.71 per tonne a week earlier.

Deals were heard this week at $405-408 per tonne, down from $420-425 per tonne last week.

“Not much activity has [been seen] - everyone wants to wait and watch,” a trader said. “Finished steel demand and sales are also slow.”

One market participant said that the market was down by $8-10 per tonne this week, compared with last week.

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