The International Rebar Producers & Exporters Association (Irepas) continues to believe that prospects for the global long steel-products market remain satisfactory for the rest of 2021.
The association’s September 9 report listed several positive factors, most notably the improving supply-demand balance in the major markets, planned infrastructure investments worldwide, and the growing number of people vaccinated against Covid-19.
“In the global long steel-products market, there are signs that supply has caught up with demand and that the supply-demand balance is becoming more neutral. The market seems to be getting back to normal in terms of lead times, prices, etc,” the association said.
In the US particularly, demand for long steel is high, while supply seems to be catching up. There are still some shortages, especially on the West Coast. It is difficult for imports to make up for them, however, due to shipping constraints, the association added.
Freight cost is a major matter of concern nowadays. Even for the traditional routes, freight rates have risen substantially.
Currently the price for transporting 10,000 tonnes of billet cargo from the Black Sea basin to Turkey is within the range of $30-40 per tonne, whereas this time last year it was $15 per tonne.
“Traders have been punished by the high and unpredictable freight costs and are now careful as regards new business,” Irepas said. “No one wants to book on fob basis. It is getting more and more difficult to get a quotation, which makes it difficult and/or risky to offer on cfr basis as well. This situation will create short-term downward pressure on prices and long-term shortages in importing countries.”
To add to the problem, most ports are full in the US and do not wish to receive more cargoes. Especially for rain-sensitive cargoes, indoor storage space hardly exists, the association added.
Nevertheless, the association still believes the future of the long-steel market is promising due to a number of positive factors.
Planned infrastructure investments worldwide is one of them.
“Almost all countries are looking at some type of stimulus plan, with infrastructure being high on the list, as it is the easy choice,” Irepas said. “Stimulus money is flowing, and infrastructure spending in particular looks to continue for several years in the EU, UK and North America.”
Irepas also believes the increasing number of people vaccinated against Covid-19 should have a positive effect on demand for long-steel products.
Steel output restrictions in China are another important factor that should positively affect the global long-steel market.
Steel production cuts in China could be extended beyond December to March 2022. These cuts are designed to combat pollution during the winter heating season and in the lead-up to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, a notice sent to major market participants said on Monday September 6.
“China’s restrictions on steel production will mean stronger Chinese demand for semi-finished steel imports, which should support other regions, especially ASEAN,” Irepas said.
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