SOUTH ASIA STEEL SCRAP: Trading activity slows on weak market

Prices for shredded steel scrap imported into India and Pakistan trended downward in the week to Friday March 26 as a result of slow trading activity and weak demand, sources told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets calculated its steel scrap, shredded, index, import, cfr Nhava Sheva, India, at $423.29 per tonne on Friday, down from $427.50 per tonne one week before.

A deal was heard at $423 per tonne this week, compared with a deal level of $425 per tonne the previous week. Offers were reported at $415-425 per tonne, down from $425-430 per tonne one week earlier.

“At the start of the week, there were rumors that the market would go down, but suppliers and yard owners are trying to limit prices and are not willing to [see prices fall]. But there is an expectation that prices will go down further,” a buyer said.

The same buyer wondered if there might be significant buying before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when all activity slows down.

One market participant said that there were no new prices and no deals this week, while a mill source said that India appeared to be out of the market because local scrap was available and was cheaper.

The domestic options of direct-reduced iron (DRI) and scrap remained available and were preferred over imports. This was emphasized by a ship being stuck in the Suez canal, which has thus been blocked for several days.

“The Suez canal issue will lead to delays and is pushing the freight rate further upward. Some shipping lines have stopped taking fresh bookings,” a buyer said.

India was currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 case numbers, with new restrictions being imposed on gatherings and a curfew in states such as Maharashtra, but many market participants were not concerned about the effects on business.

“The market is rather quiet and Indian domestic prices have dropped, but overall there is nothing to be worried about,” a seller said.

“There are holidays next week. I don’t see any major consequences from the [pandemic] but it might disturb sentiment. Stockists who worry about lockdown won’t stock up, but it would be a social lockdown, not an economic lockdown,” he said.

“The second wave of Covid-19 has [resulted in] a few areas where cases are high and that have restrictions,” a buyer said, “but demand for finished steel is good. It’s different from the first wave – steel is backbone of the infrastructure projects that affect gross domestic product.”

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix), import, cfr Nhava Sheva, India, was $380-400 per tonne on Friday, unchanged week on week.

“A supplier would not earn anything at these prices. With a freight rate increase of $300-400 per container next month, all the profit is taken away by the shipping cost. Even before confirming prices, you’re asked whether you can get a shipping booking,” a trader said.

“After Ramadan, Turkey will be back in the market, and scrap production in Europe is higher during spring,” he added.

On the Pakistan market, trading was also subdued, with prices moving downward.

Fastmarkets calculated its weekly steel scrap, shredded, index, import, cfr Port Qasim, Pakistan, at $423.21 per tonne on March 26, down from $429.42 per tonne on March 19.

A deal was reported at $420 per tonne this week, down from deals at $425-435 per tonne the previous week, while offers were in the range of $425-435 per tonne, compared with $440-455 per tonne one week earlier.

Domestic rebar prices in the country were also heard to have moved down, and were now believed to be $835 per tonne, compared with $841 per tonne last week.