China-based steel traders have regained their appetite for steel billet imports following increases in their domestic steel markets over the last few days, sources told Fastmarkets on Friday June 11.
The most traded rebar and hot-rolled coil futures contracts on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up by 3.74% and 3.13% respectively on Friday afternoon.
Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel billet, import, cfr China was $680-700 per tonne on Friday, up $10-20 per tonne week on week from $670-680 per tonne.
Offers for Indonesia-origin blast furnace (BF) 3sp 150mm billet were heard at $710-720 per tonne cfr China in recent days, while Japanese 3sp billet offers rose to $720-730 per tonne cfr, sources said.
Buying interest was largely capped at $680 per tonne cfr over the week, but bid levels rose to around $695 per tonne cfr China for Vietnamese 3sp BF billet by the Friday, Fastmarkets heard.
One deal for 40,000 tonnes of Vietnam-origin 3sp billet was heard sold to traders at $670 per tonne fob on Friday, which sources said would be equivalent to around $700 per tonne cfr China.
India-origin 3sp billet cargoes were still available for less than $700 per tonne cfr China but sources said no Chinese buyers were likely to purchase this material given the difficulties encountered when shipping from India to China at the moment.
“Suppliers’ offers are stable and there’s been little buying interest in China [for most of the week] but I believe interest from China will return because there’s market expectations of production restrictions,” a key Chinese trader said.
Sources that spoke to Fastmarkets said authorities in Tianjin, Jiangsu and Zhejiang plan to cut steel production, but no official notice has been released yet. The rumors then boosted prices for rebar in China’s domestic market by the end of the week amid supply concerns, sources added.
“Steel prices are picking up and raw material prices are really high so [billet] prices can’t drop. The China steel scrap import price is also very high right now,” a Singapore-based trader said.
“China has started to buy again and that’s making the market feel more stable,” a Philippines-based trader said.
Activity was largely stunted in the Philippines import billet market this week amid a generally wide gap between bids and offers, sources said.
Fastmarkets assessed the daily price for steel billet, import, cfr Manila, based on standard BF and EAF 5sp billet at $690-700 per tonne cfr on June 11, widening from $695 per tonne day on day yet $10 narrower week on week from $680-700 per tonne cfr.
Offers were largely reported around $700-720 per tonne cfr for 5sp billet over the week. Far East Russian modified high-manganese 5sp billet was heard offered at $700 per tonne cfr Manila while Russian electric arc furnace (EAF) 125mm billet was on offer at $700 per tonne cfr earlier in the week.
Vietnam-origin 3sp BF billet in a 10,000-tonne lot was offered at $695 per tonne cfr Manila on Thursday, with bids heard at $685 per tonne cfr Manila. While most buyers were heard bidding near $675-680 per tonne cfr Manila for 5sp billet this week, sources said.
Some 22,000 tonnes of Russia-origin billet was sold at $695 per tonne cfr Philippines for July shipment in the first half of the week, while rumors of Vietnamese induction furnace (IF) sales were heard at $680-685 per tonne cfr Manila.
One Philippine steelmaker source told Fastmarkets that the large bid-offer gap in the market would prevent further deals and now that the Philippines is entering its rainy season, demand for downstream construction will dampen too.
Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Indonesian mills received offers at $720 per tonne cfr for 5sp billet but did not purchase while offers for Iran-origin billet were heard at $670 per tonne cfr Thailand at the start of the week, up from sales done at $650 per tonne cfr in the previous week.
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