SHANGHAI Chinas finished steel exports dropped in February as buyers were put off by a rapid run-up in export prices between mid-December and mid-January, when export transactions for February shipment were booked.
The countrys export prices for commercial hot-rolled coil (4.5 to 12 millimeters thick) had increased to $590 to $600 per tonne f.o.b. by Jan. 18, up an average of 10.2 percent from $540 per tonne five weeks earlier.
"The fast increase in steel export prices from mid-December to mid-January hindered business, leading to an evident decrease in Februarys export volume," one trader in Shanghai told AMM sister publication Steel First.
The high prices made some buyers hesitant about placing orders, he said, and some overseas customers turned to suppliers in other countries due to their competitive prices.
Chinas finished steel exports totaled 4.24 million tonnes in February, a 13.8-percent decline from 4.92 million tonnes the previous month and down 8.6 percent from the 2012 monthly average of 4.64 million tonnes, according to preliminary Chinese customs data. However, Februarys exports were up 25 percent from the same month last year.
Exporters are expecting March shipments to be at similar levels to those seen in February, based on their transaction records.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.