STEEL WEEK IN BRIEF: Scrap prices on the rise; ArcelorMittal raises European flat steel prices; interviews with AGIS, Mobarakeh Steel
Metal Bulletin reviews the major stories affecting the steel market over the past week.
Global ferrous scrap prices continued to rally, fueled by expectations of tighter supply from the onset of winter and solid demand from global steelmakers.
Turkish scrap import prices climbed early in the week as mills continued to book material for January delivery. This put upward price pressure on bulk and containerized scrap in the US export sector, which in turn boosted Taiwanese and Indian import scrap prices.
Also, UK light iron scrap market prices have increased, moving up another £5 per tonne for the fifth week in a row.
Trader-driven buying activity continues to send seaborne coking coal prices higher, and a strengthening domestic market in China has resulted in a bullish outlook for the entire segment of the steel complex, with Metal Bulletin’s cfr China Premium Hard Coking Coal Index rising by $7.84 per tonne on Friday to $219.57 per tonne.
Iron ore prices ended the week above the $71-per-tonne-cfr-China mark after a surge in the number of transactions involving higher-grade materials.
And buyers of Commonwealth of Independent States-origin pig iron have started to book material in the export market at higher prices after suppliers increased offers in the beginning of December.
China’s domestic market for hot-rolled coil (HRC) held steady ahead of the weekend despite a rebound in the futures market after three days of weakness, while Chinese rebar prices fell further on Friday due to weak demand.
Early in the week, eastern China’s Shagang raised its long steel prices further for mid-December.
Billet spot prices in Asia increased on Friday, with market participants citing a fire at an electric-arc furnace mill in Saudi Arabia as a contributing factor.
Prices for HRC and cold-rolled coil (CRC) from the CIS region are expected to rise in December on the upward trend in the Chinese export market and higher demand in other key markets.
Flat steel prices in Turkey increased - on strong demand for domestic, import and export material - and further price rises are expected.
In Europe, ArcelorMittal has increased its prices for flat steel products.
European domestic beam prices have reached their highest levels since Metal Bulletin started assessing the market in 2014, due to a combination of healthy consumption and mounting scrap costs.
Domestic prices for rebar in southern Europe widened upward by €10 per tonne following a rise in ferrous scrap prices.
US wire rod prices have risen, with the December jump in scrap costs exerting more influence than mills’ latest price-increase letters thus far.
Domestic prices for HRC in Argentina have increased this month, while those for other products remained stable.
Egypt’s Ministry Of Trade & Industry detailed its anti-dumping duty rates for rebar from China, Ukraine and Turkey.
The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) expects the Trump administration to turn in a key report on its Section 232 investigation into steel imports by the January 16, deadline. The report could come sooner - perhaps later this month - should Congress deliver a tax cut bill to President Donald Trump before the Christmas holiday.
Around the world
Metal Bulletin published two interviews this week. In the first one, United Arab Emirates-based Al Ghurair Iron & Steel said that steel demand in the Middle East will keep growing in 2018 and beyond, but the region needs trade protection measures to support local producers.
In the second, Mobarakeh Steel, Iran’s largest flat steel producer, said it aims to increase its slab exports rapidly over the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, ERP Iron Ore’s plan to build a direct-reduced iron plant on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range faces an uncertain future because of a big roadblock put up by competitor Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
Russia’s Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (MMK) has acquired 100% of the shares of Lysva Metallurgical Co in order to boost high valued-added products output.
The Philippines will increase its steel tube capacity with a new plant scheduled to be built in Batangas.
China’s HBIS Laoting is planning to commission a 4.2 million-tonnes-per-year slab production facility in February-March 2019.
And finally, China’s crude steel output continued to rise on a year-on-year basis in November to 66.15 million tonnes, though it is much lower than October’s production.