Prices for steel billet exports from the Commonwealth of Independent States remained firm over past the week, supported by demand from China.
Having sold a significant part of their October allocations and even part of their November allocations to China in the week to September 3, CIS mills were mainly in wait-and-see mode and not hurrying to sell their remaining volumes.
Rare indications of offers were heard from suppliers within the range of $610-620 per tonne fob Black Sea, but most mills preferred to withdraw from the market and assess the situation.
“According to our assessments, China booked around 1 million tonnes of billet of various origins including CIS,” a Ukraine-based producer told Fastmarkets.
Both Ukrainian and Russian mill sources believe that demand for import billet in China will remain in place due to severe production cuts announced in the country, which market sources thought may continue through December and even into the beginning of 2022.
“[China] should not reduce billet import significantly as they reduce steel output. Moreover, stocks of finished steel are decreasing, and [it] looks like they need rebar now,” the Ukraine-based mill source added.
The most recent bids for import billet in China decreased to $700-705 per tonne cfr, compared with $700-725 per tonne cfr paid over the past two weeks. If a Black Sea-based mill sold at $700-705 per tonne cfr to China now, the price would net back to $600-605 per tonne fob, which is comparatively higher than what customers in the nearer markets are ready to pay at the moment, Fastmarkets understands.
Besides that, demand in the nearer markets would not support such massive bookings as those sold to the Chinese market.
“For me, the market is still dead as there are no billets available as big mills sold to China,” a European trader said. “I would say there was lately no other market than China, and this is mill-to-mill business only.”
A few bids were heard from Turkish customers within the range of $580-620 per tonne cfr. Freight to different parts of the country varied from $32-45 per tonne; that translates into $550-575 per tonne fob, which is not acceptable at least for large CIS mills.
A mill source said there was some demand recovery in the African market, but did not provide further details on which part of the continent that demand was coming from. That source did note, however, that the customer was ready to pay $605-610 per tonne fob Black Sea. No deal was heard by the time of publication.
As such, Fastmarkets’ calculation of its daily steel billet index, export, fob Black Sea, CIS was unchanged day on day and week on week at $600 per tonne on September 17.
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