China’s domestic hot-rolled coil prices were stable on Friday April 16, though they remain close to their highest in 12 years.
Eastern China (Shanghai): ۵,۴۸۰-۵,۵۱۰ yuan ($840-844) per tonne, unchanged
Northern China (Tangshan) – weekly assessment: ۵,۴۳۰-۵,۴۷۰ yuan per tonne, down 60-70 yuan per tonne
Several sources told Fastmarkets that spot sellers were offering HRC at 5,480-5,490 yuan per tonne in the morning, but by afternoon, transaction prices of 5,500-5,510 yuan per tonne were realized after the futures market registered gains.
Overall trading activity was reported to be moderate on Friday.
A Tianjin-based trader believes Chinese HRC prices are likely to stay elevated for some time because the cost of raw materials remains high. Coke and coking coal futures in particular have been trending upward recently.
But he does not expect too much upside because mills’ profit margins are already very high and downstream buyers will be reluctant to pay such high prices for long.
HRC prices in Shanghai ended the week 20 yuan per tonne higher.
The Tianjin-based trader said prices in the northern region had likely fallen as a result of weakening demand among downstream buyers. Demand from the northern China’s construction sector this week “wasn’t strong as expected, which led to price decreases there,” he said.
Fastmarkets’ steel hot-rolled coil index export, fob main port China: $۸۷۴٫۲۵ per tonne, up $2.36 per tonne
A source at a mill in eastern China told Fastmarkets that its lowest acceptable price was $880 per tonne fob, having concluded several transactions for rerolling-grade HRC earlier this week at $870 per tonne fob.
Export prices for Chinese HRC were mixed during the day.
A trader in northern China said he was mainly selling HRC from his inventory at around $860 per tonne cfr Vietnam, which is equivalent to about $835-840 per tonne fob China, but a Hong Kong-based trader said other traders were still able to secure orders at around $900 per tonne fob China.
A Shanghai-based trader said the price discrepancy could be due to some buyers not getting access to information in a timely manner, which led to them paying high prices, though these likely involved small quantities.
Sources estimated $870 per tonne fob to be the lowest acceptable price among mills. This is close to domestic transaction price levels if there is no export tax rebate.
Market participants continue to speculate about whether the Chinese government would reduce the 13% export tax rebate for HRC to 9% or 4% or remove it completely.
There was still no confirmation of this at the time of writing, though most market participants have factored in the possibility of the rebate adjustment in their bids and offers.
Many market participants are expecting a government announcement on the matter on May 1.
Northern China’s Benxi Iron & Steel continued to offer cargoes at $810 per tonne fob, but on the condition that buyers shoulder additional costs associated with any change in the rebate.
Market chatter ***
“I heard many private HRC producers are enjoying profit margins of 1,000-1,200 yuan per tonne. That’s too high, I don’t think such a scenario will last long. Either raw materials will become more expensive, or steel prices will drop in the next few weeks,” the Tianjin-based trader said.
Shanghai Futures Exchange ***
The most-traded October HRC futures contract closed at 5,413 yuan per tonne on Friday, up by 20 yuan per tonne from Thursday.
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