STEEL WEEK IN BRIEF: Seaborne coking coal softens, China HRC export price stays strong, ThyssenKrupp/Tata merger…

Metal Bulletin reviews the major stories affecting the steel market over the past week.

Seaborne coking coal markets showed signs of softening over the past week, with offers of premium export cargoes reportedly falling to $210 per tonne fob Australia down from $220 per tonne fob.

Metal Bulletin’s cfr China Premium Hard Coking Coal Index fell $6.11 to $210.63 per tonne by Friday September 15, while the Hard Coking Coal Index dropped by $8.58 over the same period to $191.21.

Seaborne coking coal sellers were targeting the India where buyers were finally showing interest in procuring spot cargoes, having sat on the sidelines in recent weeks.

However, a fresh round of price increases emerged in China’s coke market, with two steel majors – Shandong province’s Rizhao Iron & Steel and Hesteel – raising their purchase prices by 100 yuan ($15) per tonne.

In the ferrous scrap market, Turkey’s domestic prices declined over the past week, in line with the strengthening Turkish lira and falling imported scrap prices.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for domestic auto bundle (DKP grade) scrap in Turkey was TRY1,150-1,260 per tonne delivered, down from TRY1,165-1,270 per tonne the previous week.

Prices for containerised ferrous scrap imported into India also declined over the past week, due to a drop in finished steel prices and a weakening of global scrap markets. 

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for imports for HMS 1&2 (80:20) stood at $295-305 per tonne cfr Nhava Sheva on Friday, down by $9-15 per tonne compared with one week ago.

In contrast, European stainless steel base prices for long products widened upward over the past week, with mills seeking to raise prices further on rising graphite electrode costs.

US stainless steel scrap markets drifted down on the processor side in the week to Friday September 15, but dealer prices remained stable.

Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index stood at $72.13 per tonne cfr China on September 15, down from $74.36 per tonne the previous Friday.

China’s hot rolled coil (HRC) export prices stayed strong over the past week, as sales in the domestic market maintained healthy profit margins and tight supplies in South Korea meant buyers there were willing to accept higher offers.

Metal Bulletin’s price assessment for October/November shipments of commercial-grade, boron-containing SS400 HRC was $575-600 per tonne fob, up by $20-30 per tonne from the previous week.

Also, Central China’s Wuhan Iron & Steel (Wugang) and Eastern China’s Baosteel raised their list prices for October-delivered flat steel products in the past week.

Northern European steelmakers followed the international trend and increased their domestic HRC offer prices, although the new offers have yet to be reflected in deals.

Prices for imported HRC and cold rolled coil (CRC) in Iran continued to rise as Russian suppliers announced higher offers.

Southern European steelmakers have not achieved their desired deal levels for heavy steel plate and continued to trade at stable prices over the past week. But plate transaction prices were expected to move up as Italian re-rollers will need to cover the rising costs of steel slab.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for slab exports from Brazil moved up to $500-510 per tonne fob on September 15, from $490-500 per tonne fob a week earlier.

China’s domestic stainless steel prices fell over the past week, the first time since early August, with traders becoming more eager to offload their materials amid inventory pressure.

But rebar and wire rod prices rose in both Northern and Southern Europe because of higher production costs and reduced supply.

CIS rebar and wire rod export prices also increased, supported by renewed growth in billet prices and steady demand for long steel.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for CIS wire rod exports rose to $560-580 per tonne fob Black Sea, up from $550-560 per tonne fob.

Rebar producers in the UAE increased their domestic ex-works prices in the past week, with the country’s largest producer, Emirates Steel, offering rebar at 2,205 dirhams ($600) per tonne ex-works, up from the previous 2,061 dirhams per tonne ex-works.

Around the world
Metal Bulletin reported in the past week from its Galvanizing & Coil Coating conference and its Tube & Pipe Forum, both held in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

At the former event, topics discussed included the divergent impact of Chinese steel capacity reductions on state-owned enterprises and other mills and prospects for Turkey’s share of galvanized steel heading to the EU.

While at the latter event, participants discussed pressure on tube-making mill margins from likely increases in materials costs and the potential of a diversion in Central and Southern American premium connection seamless steel tubes exports to the Middle East from the USA by 2019.

Participants at the Tube & Pipe forum said they expect Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) nations to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of certain Chinese seamless pipes by the second quarter of 2018.

Meanwhile, Brazilian industrial associations are demanding that their government reject a plan to adopt anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against HRC imports from China and Russia.

The board of steelmaker ThyssenKrupp may approve the merging of its European flat steel operations with those of Tata Steel “by the end of September”, the German steelmaker said. The deal cleared a major hurdle in the past week as Tata Steel completed the process of separating itself from its defined-benefit UK pension scheme.

Sources said the Algerian ministry of commerce has started to issue additional rebar import licences, with sources suggesting the extra volume could amount to around 400,000 tonnes.

And a member of the Egyptian parliament called for an investigation into the cancellation of export contracts by state-owned steelmaker Hadisolb, which the company attributed to the global increase in steel prices since early August.