STEEL WEEK IN BRIEF: Raw materials prices on the rise, global steel prices up, EU’s trade case against HRC...
Metal Bulletin reviews the major stories affecting the steel market over the past week.
In the global steelmaking raw materials markets, this week’s mood was generally positive.
Scrap prices mostly remained firm, except in India.
Turkey continued to pay higher prices for imported scrap in line with rising billet and finished steel prices, while scrap prices in the USA and Taiwan followed a similar trend.
Export prices for Brazil-origin pig iron rose this week amid renewed trading activity and a bullish outlook.
Seaborne coking coal prices ended the week higher, with traders continuing to have a bullish outlook amid robust domestic coking coal and steel markets in China.
Iron ore prices, meanwhile, gained strength at the beginning of the week, staying above $70 per tonne cfr on Wednesday, but prices fell at the end of the period due to thin trading.
On Friday, Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index was $67.14 per tonne cfr Qingdao, down by $0.91 per tonne on a daily basis.
Prices for different steel products and regions have all increased this week.
In China, export prices for hot rolled coil (HRC) have risen for a sixth week on continued upward momentum in the domestic market.
Eastern China’s steel major Shagang has raised its prices for long steel to be delivered in late July.
In Southeast Asia, import billet prices continued to rise last week, supported by the positive trend in the global semi-finished market.
Turkish billet import prices continued to increase in line with rising imported scrap values, while Turkey’s rebar export market started to strengthen with growing demand from Southeast Asia.
CIS-origin export HRC prices have gone up over the past week, as values were supported by the growth in the Chinese export prices, while CIS export slab prices continued to increase, driven by the continuing uptrend in the finished flat steel products and raw materials sectors.
In Russia, offer prices for cold rolled (CR) sheet have widened upwards over the past week by 1,400 roubles ($24) per tonne.
Northern European steelmakers have increased their official HRC offers on higher raw material costs and a recovery in the global flat steel market.
And in the USA, NLMK USA has increased flat steel base prices for all new spot business by $40 per tonne, while California Steel Industries Inc (CSI) has increased prices for flat rolled steel by at least $25 per tonne.
A bi-national panel of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) countries will review anti-dumping duties issued by the USA against imports of steel pipe from Mexico.
The US Court of International Trade (CIT) has decided that a Taiwanese tube mill can have its anti-dumping duties reduced, based on rebates that did not appear in sales contracts.
In Europe, the European Commission (EC) has excluded Serbia from its anti-dumping investigation into HRC imports from five countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran and Brazil.
Russia’s Severstal, meanwhile, expects to continue to make shipments of HRC to Europe after proposed trade restrictions are imposed.
European steel association Eurofer believes the application of a minimum import price (MIP) on HRC will not be enough to stop dumping of the material from four countries named in a trade case.
Around the world
In the USA, the multiple postponements to any announcement of a Section 232 action on steel products are allowing additional factors to complicate the decision, and the prolonged uncertainty threatens to strain customer relationships.
The top executive at US steelmaker Nucor has suggested that US president Donald Trump’s administration might disappoint the steel industry with its Section 232 investigation into steel imports.
A new steel plant with the capacity to make 1.20 million tpy of steel billet has started operations in the Yazd province of central Iran, German equipment supplier SMS Group said.
Russia’s Metalloinvest has launched a 1.80 million-tpy hot briquetted iron (HBI) production facility in the country’s Belgorod region.
And Brazil-based steelmaker Gerdau has started up a 650,000-tpy steel mill in Argentina.
Major global miners disclosed output figures this week.
BHP reported all-time high output at its 85%-owned Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) operations in the financial year 2017 ended June 30, and has raised its guidance for the current financial year.
Its met coal output, however, fell 6% to 40 million tonnes due to the damage levied on the network infrastructure of rail track provider Aurizon by Cyclone Debbie.
Rio Tinto’s iron ore production for the three months ending June 30 dropped by 1% year-on-year, to 79.80 million tonnes.
Vale’s iron ore production set a record for a second quarter in a row in April-June 2017, at 91.85 million tonnes.
Worldsteel data showed that global crude steel output increased by 3.23% year-on-year in June, up to 141.05 million tonnes, as China stepped up its steelmaking activity.
And global output of direct reduced iron (DRI) rose by 4.81% over the same period, to 4.85 million tonnes, according to Worldsteel.