NEW YORK West Coast export prices for containerized ferrous scrap shed $5 per tonne this past week ahead of Februarys Chinese New Year holiday.
The decline, which amounts to $10 per tonne over the past two weeks, has prompted some market participants to suggest the market might have reached its bottom.
Market participants reported sales in a range of $385 to $390 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan for an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt, down from the previous weeks range of $390 to $395 per tonne.
Larger-volume exporters secured sales at the high end of the range; some said demand from certain countries, such as Taiwan, was consistent with the previous weeks levels.
A few sources said there had been some low-tonnage sales at $375 to $380 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan, but the bulk of the heavy melt scrap volume exported this past week traded in a range of $385 to $390 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan.
"We sold a normal amount this week. Demand is consistent. ... I do believe there will be a slight pause from buyers over the Chinese New Year, as no one wants to be long during that period," one exporter said.
"Demand actually seems to still be there. ... Some larger traders I know, who mainly go to (southern Taiwan) mills, actually were willing to increase their pricing from last week (from) $360 per tonne f.a.s. Los Angeles to $365," a second exporter said.
"In the end, maybe this downward trend will only last through the Chinese New Year," he added. "I am not so sure on China and Vietnam."
A buyer for a steel producer in Taiwan told AMM the market expects mills in Taiwan will have to restock quickly once the holiday ends.
"Finished product demand is slack due to the upcoming Lunar New Year. Expectations are that after the Lunar New Year, we will have a restocking situation," he said.
Southeast Asia "on the average is slow," the buyer added. "Thailand/Malaysia is in the $370-(per-tonne range) for containerized heavy melt from South and Latin America. There are still some major traders holding unsold positions, which need to be released soon."
A fourth source pegged containerized HMS 1&2 (80:20) sales to Vietnam at about $410 per tonne.