TAIWAN STEEL SCRAP: Downtrend continues despite efforts to support prices

Prices for imported containerized ferrous scrap in Taiwan have continued to trend downward despite efforts by some market participants to shore up the market.

Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for containerized cargoes of steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20), US material import, cfr main port Taiwan was $350-360 per tonne on Friday February 5, unchanged from a day earlier but down by $5-10 per tonne from $360-365 per tonne on January 29.

This week, negotiations initially continued to center at $360-365 per tonne cfr Taiwan - the same as last Friday - due to expectations of scrap prices in Turkey rebounding, though this turned out to be unfounded.

By mid-week, sentiment deteriorated after it emerged that a major mill had paid $350 per tonne cfr Taiwan for at least 5,000 tonnes of scrap.

A second major steelmaker also cut its purchase price for domestic scrap by New Taiwan $300 ($10.70) per tonne this week - which weakened sentiment further - as well as lowered its selling price for rebar by NT$800 per tonne.

The same mill purchased imported scrap at $355-360 per tonne cfr Taiwan this week.

“Some sellers are hoping to sell material quickly ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday,” a Taiwanese trader told Fastmarkets on Thursday February 4.

Taiwan is observing a public holiday for the festival over February 10-16. No business activity is expected in the steel and scrap markets during this period.

Some buyers were heard to have submitted bids at $360 per tonne cfr Taiwan, but it was not known at the time of writing whether any transactions were concluded above that level.

Sellers had attempted to support prices by raising offers for cargoes from the United States West Coast, especially with prices for Japanese scrap rebounding. Offers for US cargoes had increased to $365-370 per tonne cfr Taiwan at the start of the week, before rising further to $370 per tonne cfr by Wednesday.

Optimistic sellers felt that prices had rebounded due to Chinese mills being in the spot market for high-grade scrap, though some buyers thought that recent transactions - a bulk cargo of Russian A3 scrap was sold at $391 per tonne cfr South Korea while a US cargo of heavy melting scrap 1&2 (80:20) changed hands at $398 per tonne cfr South Korea - meant that prices were still in the trough.

Talk of a Turkish steelmaker purchasing a bulk cargo of shredded scrap at $395-400 per tonne cfr on Thursday also dampened sentiment, especially with market sources estimating such a price to be equivalent to around $390-395 per tonne cfr Turkey if the deal had involved HMS 1&2 (80:20).

Japanese scrap was offered at $380 per tonne cfr Taiwan this week, up by more than $20 per tonne from last Friday amid a rebounding market in Japan.

But offers were limited because many shippers in Japan are bullish about prices and are holding on to material.

“Prices are being partially supported by China being in the spot market for Japanese HS scrap. Any Japanese steel mill that wants to get material will need to raise its bid,” a Japanese trader told Fastmarkets on Friday February 5.

The fact that China had cleared its first shipment of ferrous scrap also improved sentiment in Japanese scrapyards.

“Many Japanese scrapyards are now more confident that their material can enter the Chinese market,” a second Taiwanese trader told Fastmarkets on Thursday February 4.

Explore the six macro-economic and steel-specific dynamics set to rebalance the Asia steel and scrap market in 2021. Please read our full report Asia Steel and Scrap: Six Key Forces Driving 2021 today.

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