Upward price momentum was witnessed in three of the four Indian regions researched by MEPS. Selling figures, in rupee terms, last reached current levels in May 2012. However, local traders remain cautious about the strength of underlying consumption in the interim – citing reduced activity during the country’s general election and the forthcoming monsoon season.
In China, quotations have fallen back marginally from the levels touched in early trading. Domestic scrap traders have begun to query whether the latest settlement figures are supported by market and economic fundamentals. The negative sentiment has been fuelled by restrained end-user demand for finished steel products.
In April, Japanese electric furnace steelmakers increased their HMS2 purchasing figures, prompted by tight domestic supply. In early trading, Tokyo Steel Manufacturing, a bellwether for the domestic steel industry, lifted its procurement prices at all five subsidiaries. The upward adjustment was executed in three phases. Exporters based in Chubu, Kansai and Kanto expect the positive price trend to continue in the short term.
Effective price settlements increased this month for the three bellwether cut grades tracked in the United States. Low mill inventory and a shortage of material created a seller’s market. As for May, brokers acknowledge that the flow of obsolete and prime industrial grades into dealers’ yards will improve, which could lead to lower quotations. Exporters, operating out of East and West Coast ports, adopted aggressive pricing positions in early-April, underpinned by the strength of the domestic market and the mistaken belief of a revival in Turkish offshore demand. However, the positive sentiment was short-lived. The availability of low-cost semi-finished steel material and the strength of the US dollar had dampened both the price and tonnages for bulk cargos and containerised scrap – particularly, shipments to Asian clients.
Taiwanese mills, operating electric furnaces, persevered with conservative scrap purchasing policies during April, due to the recent downturn in key steelmaking raw material prices and slow domestic reinforcing bar sales. As for May, import tonnage is forecast to decline due to planned production cutbacks.
Arduous business conditions perist in the South Korean steel market. In May, Korean importers are expected to persevere with a wait and see attitude. The current initiative by US suppliers to lift prices is viewed as ill-timed, counterproductive and will only escalate purchases from alternative sources.
Source: MEPS – Ferrous Scrap Review