NEW YORK U.S. export prices for containerized ferrous scrap softened slightly this past week as mills in India and some Far East Asian countries continued to battle weak regional markets for finished products.
Containerized scrap export prices fell between $5 and $12 per tonne compared with sales completed around the third week of November, market participants said.
A week-long impasse between U.S. exporters and buyers for Indian mills ended after the Indian rupee strengthened against the dollar.
U.S. exporters and Indian importers reported transactions in a range of $415 to $418 per tonne c.f.r. for containerized shredded scrap delivered to Mumbais Nhava Sheva port, down from a mid-November range of $424 to $430, after which U.S. shipments to India halted as buyers there bid between $400 and $410 per tonne (amm.com, Nov. 27).
Sources were divided on the strength of the Indian market, with some saying that trading resumed at improved price levels just as the mills were looking to boost inventory.
"The Indian rupee jumped up against the dollar, which allowed some Indian mills to pick up scrap since the currency rate and current scrap prices are encouraging for those (buyers) with liquidity," one source said.
"The south (of India) is very weak right now and were still not sure about where prices are headed," a second source said.
Trading levels for the week were established after a large exporter broke up a bulk cargo that arrived on Indias West Coast about 10 to 12 days ago and sold the vessels shredded scrap cargo to different buyers at around $417 per tonne, some sources said.
Reports of lower transacted prices on a second bulk cargo out of South Africa at around the same time to a southeast Indian port prevented prices from rising further, they said.
"Very few buyers want to buy material," a source in India said. "They would still prefer to book cheaper material from the Middle East and Africa."
On the West Coast, sources reported containerized scrap sales of an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt in a range of $360 to $365 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan, the majority of which were trending to the lower end of that range, down from the previous weeks range of $365 to $368 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan (amm.com, Nov. 29) and a mid-November level of $370 to $380.
One source said the weakness was caused by steel mills in large scrap-importing countries like Taiwan and South Korea struggling to sell finished steel. "Finished goods are not moving. Mills have lots of inventory," he said.
Sales to Taiwan were steady this past week at $360 to $365 per tonne, with that range expected "as they pushed it down and found the bottom and now seems to be steady," another West Coast source said.
"(The) market is definitely looking weak. Container sales are off at $330 per tonne f.a.s. Los Angeles and going down," a third West Coast source said.
Only China appears to have offered some strength to West Coast tags, with one buyer in China saying that container scrap prices spiked during the week. "(The) market is going up sharply after two weeks of being soft. But I am not sure it will be stable during the winter days," he said.