NEW YORK U.S. ferrous scrap exports plunged in September after critical southeast Asian markets cut back on buying due to unfavorable currency markets, poor demand from mills in the region and higher scrap prices.
Exports totaled 1,631,442 tonnes in September, down 21.6 percent from 2,080,456 tonnes the previous month and 21.7 percent below the 2,082,971 tonnes shipped abroad in September 2011, according to the latest U.S. Commerce Department data.
Lower demand from Taiwan, India and Malaysia accounted for nearly 90 percent of the 449,000-tonne decline in exports in September as the three countries reduced their collective purchases from U.S. suppliers by more than 390,000 tonnes vs. August.
Ferrous scrap exports to Taiwan fell 40.1 percent to 237,690 tonnes in September from 396,484 tonnes the previous month, sales to India tumbled 63.6 percent to 66,902 tonnes from 183,589 tonnes and Malaysian orders plunged 79.9 percent to 28,803 tonnes from 143,433 tonnes.
South Koreas intake of 254,107 tonnes was down just 0.8 percent from 256,102 tonnes in August, while demand from China (including Hong Kong) inched up 0.7 percent to 97,277 tonnes from 96,597 tonnes.
Closer to home, shipments to Canada fell 18 percent to 94,273 tonnes in September from 114,973 tonnes the previous month, while Mexicos intake slid 26.7 percent to 51,526 tonnes from 70,247 tonnes.
Turkey, the largest offshore buyer of U.S. ferrous scrap, posted a 29.2-percent increase to 655,925 tonnes in from 507,797 tonnes in August.
The large drop in demand in September hit shredded scrap exports the hardest, with volumes falling 32.2 percent to 478,819 tonnes from 705,816 tonnes the previous month. Exports of No. 1 heavy melt scrap fell 13.7 percent to 586,282 tonnes from 679,696 tonnes in the same comparison, while plate and structural shipments slid 28.4 percent to 82,076 tonnes from 114,699 tonnes.
For the first nine months of the year, ferrous scrap export volumes were down 10.5 percent to 16,903,425 tonnes from 18,894,676 tonnes in the same period last year. Increased demand from Turkey (up 17.6 percent to 5,079,184 tonnes), Taiwan (up 4.3 percent to 2,755,838 tonnes), India (up 8.7 percent to 969,856 tonnes) and Mexico (up 30.9 percent to 560,751 tonnes) helped offset lower shipments to China (including Hong Kong), which fell 52.3 percent to 1,586,895 tonnes, and South Korea (down 0.9 percent to 2,373,423 tonnes).