Steel billet buyers across Asia are facing a raft of expensive offers following frenetic buying activity among Chinese customers last week, sources told Fastmarkets on Monday July 19.
Buying prices for steel billet in China climbed throughout last week on expectations that many mills would need to reduce output in the second half of the year, because China’s authorities were targeting 2021 steel production at a level below last year’s total of 1.07 billion tonnes.
Chinese buyers bought several cargoes of 150mm 3sp blast furnace (BF) billet last week. This included paying $703-705 per tonne cfr China for Indian material, $۷۰۵-۷۰۷ per tonne cfr from material from Vietnam and $710-713 per tonne cfr for billet from Indonesia.
By Monday, offers of Indonesian 150mm 3sp BF billet were heard at $720-725 per tonne cfr China.
A tender for 10,000 tonnes of 3sp 150mm Japanese billet was answered with bids around $710 per tonne cfr China on Monday, but a Japanese trading source said that the selling mill would not accept this price and was now in private negotiations with interested traders in an attempt to get a price of $715-720 per tonne cfr.
On the buy side in China, however, the turbulence in the ferrous futures markets over recent days has led to a halt in the relentless upward momentum seen last week.
“Today, futures have come down, and sellers will not be able to get [$715-720 per tonne cfr China]; today, bids will be $710 per tonne cfr at most,” an importer source said on Monday.
Fastmarkets’ latest weekly price assessment for steel billet, import, cfr China, was $703-715 per tonne on July 16, up by $24-28 from $675-691 per tonne on July 9.
The rise in Chinese billet buying has dragged up offer levels into key Southeast Asian markets such as the Philippines, sources said.
Offers were heard at $705 per tonne cfr Manila for 5sp Vietnamese induction furnace (IF) billet, while BF billet was heard offered at $710-720 per tonne cfr Manila.
Deals were heard last week at $690 per tonne cfr Philippines for 5sp 125mm electric-arc furnace (EAF) billet from Russia and at $690 per tonne cfr for 5sp Vietnamese IF billet, sources said.
“The market in Manila is weak now due to seasonal factors, and billet prices are too high. Rolling mills still have stock in hand, and therefore we are out of the market,” a Philippines steelmaker source told Fastmarkets on Monday.
The mill source pointed to Thai IF billet offers at $685-690 per tonne cfr and said that, based on this, mills would be unable to pay current offer levels for BF billet.
On the other hand, a Russian steelmaker source said last Friday that although demand was slow in the Philippines, mills there would need to “pay Chinese prices” to get any BF 5sp material, adding that the required price would be at least $705 per tonne cfr Manila.
The Japanese trading source said that although general demand among mills was not healthy, some buyers needed to secure material soon, and said that some buyers could even pay as much as $700-705 per tonne cfr for 5sp Japanese billets.
Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for steel billet, import, cfr Manila, based on 120-150mm standard BF and EAF 5sp billet, was $695-705 per tonne on Friday, unchanged day on day but up by $15-20 from $680-685 per tonne cfr one week earlier.
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