Demand for cargoes of steel billet has been low in key Southeast Asian markets over the past week with prices rangebound, sources told Fastmarkets on Friday August 13.
“The Southeast Asian markets are dead, there are no bids from Thailand, which has now become a billet exporter, and there is a very strict lockdown in the Philippines,” a South Asian billet trader said.
“Philippine demand is in really bad shape. We need cheaper prices to support low domestic finished product prices,” a billet trader in the country said.
A second South Asian source told Fastmarkets that he had heard bids for wire rod imports at around $730-740 per tonne cfr Manila this week. With the usual $70 per tonne cost to transform billet into rod in the country, he said that such a price would put steel billet prices at about $660-670 per tonne cfr.
Offers for Russia-origin electric-arc furnace (EAF) billet were heard at $710 per tonne cfr Manila for 5sp grade material this week, while Vietnamese 5sp EAF billet was floated at $700 per tonne cfr on sight of a letter of credit (LC), but with no interest from mills, sources said.
Bids for 5sp blast furnace (BF) and EAF billet were heard at $680 per tonne cfr Manila on Wednesday and Thursday, which sources said was much too low to allow a deal.
But induction furnace (IF) billet from India of 5sp specification was heard sold at $680 per tonne cfr Manila on Thursday. Sources said that this indicated that mills would be able to pay $685-690 per tonne cfr for BF or EAF material if they were in the market.
Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for steel billet import, cfr Manila, was $685-695 per tonne on Friday, unchanged week on week but up by $5 per tonne from $680-690 per tonne cfr day on day.
“It is tough to say where market prices are this week, with the stricter Covid-19 lockdown restrictions here, but if there is indeed any interest out there, it would be close to $680 per tonne cfr,” a second Philippine trading source said on Thursday.
The second South Asian trader said that it was only Chinese buying, mostly carried out by trading houses taking long positions this week, that was propping up Asian steel billet prices.
“If this buying activity in China stops, the market won’t just fall a few dollars, it will come down sharply. There is no demand in Southeast Asia at all,” he said.
Activity in the Indonesian import billet market remained muted, but Fastmarkets heard rumors that Indian 5sp BF billet was sold at $680 per tonne cfr Indonesia last week.
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