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W. Coast bulk exports surge on softer prices

Keywords: Tags  ferrous scrap exports, West Coast, Sean Davidson

NEW YORK — West Coast bulk ferrous scrap export prices shed a few dollars this past week after exporters concluded several deals with Asian mills.

Following a long lull in bulk exports off the West Coast, exporters concluded at least four bulk cargo sales after lowering offers for heavy melt scrap from $390 per tonne c.i.f. Pusan, South Korea, according to market participants.

One Korean consumer picked up two bulk cargoes at $388 and $389 per tonne c.i.f. for heavy melt. The transaction apparently was completed about 10 days ago but reports didn’t surface in the market until this past week.

The two sales broke a nearly two-week-long freeze on West Coast bulk sales as Asian mills opted to wait for more visible market signals on price trends, sources said.

Two U.S. exporters sold a bulk cargo each to Korea and Vietnam in the past week. A third bulk sale to a different Korean mill from the one that earlier bought two cargoes reportedly was concluded at $385 per tonne c.i.f. And AMM learned late Thursday that a different exporter had concluded a sale to a mill in Vietnam at $403 per tonne c.i.f. for shredded scrap.

This past week’s sales represent a $3 to $4 softening of export tags to Korea, according to sources.

A few sources speculated that the market could strengthen, based on emerging bullish trends in the region, and a source at a Korean mill said that U.S. bulk offers were back to $390 per tonne c.i.f.

Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. Ltd., which many consider to be a strong indicator of regional trends, raised its scrap buying prices across all plants and on all grades by about $12 per tonne this past week following an $11-per-tonne rebound in Japanese scrap exports to be delivered in January.

Shippers of containerized scrap also have expressed confidence in the market, with many holding off on sales until prices improve. Sources said that containerized scrap prices for an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt held steady in a range of $355 to $360 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan.

"I think Taiwan has taken the (container) market as far down as they can," one source said. "My feeling is that we are at a bottom, and any future business could be up slightly."

"We are in a holding pattern here (until) the market moves back up to the $370 number," said a second exporter of containerized scrap to Taiwan.

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