SHANGHAI Chinese cold-rolled coil export volumes declined sharply in January as some European buyers shunned higher prices.
Exports totaled 230,390 tonnes last month, down 33.6 percent from 346,831 tonnes in December, mainly due to a large drop in shipments to some European countries, but were still 11.4 percent higher than in January last year, according to Chinese customs figures.
Exports to Belgium totaled just 7,392 tonnes in January, down 89.5 percent from 70,370 tonnes the previous month, while shipments to Spain plunged 90.3 percent to 3,983 tonnes from 41,044 tonnes in the same comparison.
"Those buyers reduced bookings after purchasing a large quantity of cargoes at previous prices," a trader in Shanghai told AMM sister publication Steel First.
South Korea was the leading buyer of Chinese cold-rolled coil in January, taking 41,288 tonnes, followed by the United States (25,111 tonnes) and India (24,989 tonnes).
Chinese cold-rolled coil base export prices weakened this week amid slowing business, trading sources said.
Base export transactions for cold-rolled coil were concluded Feb. 26 in a range of $660 to $665 per tonne f.o.b. for April shipment vs. $660 to $670 a week earlier.
Despite fewer export transactions, steelmakers didnt cut offers dramatically to secure business. Base export offers this week were between $680 and $685 per tonne f.o.b. for April shipment vs. $680 to $690 a week ago.
"We wish to watch the upcoming two sessions (of the National Peoples Congress and the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference) in Beijing to get further clues on the direction of the steel market," the export director at a steelmaker in north Chinas Hebei province said.
Another steel mill source in east China said his company wouldnt adjust export offers until early March.
But traders believe steelmakers will eventually reduce offers further to boost export business.
"It is almost not workable to conclude business at the $680- to $690-per-tonne level," a trader in Shanghai said, adding that overseas buyers are placing even lower bids of about $650 per tonne f.o.b.
There has been an evident drop in shipments since January, especially to Europe, according to Chinese customs figures.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.