NEW YORK The U.S. ferrous scrap export market kicked off the new year with record January shipments after the appetite of its biggest offshore consumer improved significantly.
A 30.7-percent increase in exports to Turkey was all the United States needed to post its highest January shipment total ever at 1,532,182 tonnes, according to the latest data from the U.S. Commerce Department, up 8.2 percent from the previous record of 1,416,604 tonnes set in January last year (amm.com, March 14, 2012).
Turkey remained the largest importer of U.S. scrap in January, taking 483,170 tonnes vs. 369,716 tonnes a year earlier despite an increase in scrap prices that only eased toward the end of January.
Mexico provided the only other bright spot for the export market since other top consumersincluding China, India and Taiwantrended sideways vs. January 2012 and demand from South Korea and Canada fell sharply.
Ferrous scrap exports to Mexico soared to 81,233 tonnes in January from 29,604 tonnes in the same month last year; demand from Taiwan, the second-largest importer in January, improved a marginal 1.4 percent to 263,662 tonnes from 260,055 tonnes; exports to China (including Hong Kong) rose 3.5 percent to 144,366 tonnes from 139,548 tonnes; and purchases by India inched up 1.9 percent to 72,424 tonnes from 71,108 tonnes.
But overall volumes were severely affected by a 26.8-percent drop in South Korean buying to 179,005 tonnes in January from 244,647 tonnes a year earlier; a 17.8-percent decline in demand from Canada to 87,319 tonnes from 106,320 tonnes in the same comparison; and a 57.4-percent plunge in shipments to Egypt to 38,881 tonnes from 91,252 tonnes.
Heavy melt scrap sales benefited the most from active Turkish buying as shipments of No. 1 heavy melt improved 11.3 percent year on year to 519,232 tonnes from 466,686 tonnes.
Exports of plate and structural scrap jumped 31.3 percent to 78,850 tonnes from 60,046 tonnes, but shredded scrap exports suffered from meek Far East Asian interest, dropping 5 percent to 401,188 tonnes from 422,372 tones.