NEW YORK U.S. bulk scrap export prices to Turkey dropped to a nearly three-year low Thursday as mill buyers continued to drive prices downward.
Two exporters each sold a bulk cargo to different Turkish mills on May 15 and May 16, market participants said. That sent U.S. bulk scrap export tags below $360 per tonne c.i.f. Turkey for an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt ex-East Coast for the first time since the summer of 2010.
The two sales are close to $10 per tonne lower than the previous weeks sales off the East Coast to Turkey.
One exporter reportedly sold a cargo May 16 carrying 37,000 tonnes of HMS 1&2 (80:20) and 8,000 tonnes of shredded scrap for a composite price of $360 per tonne c.i.f. Turkey, sources said. The price indicates HMS 1&2 (80:20) prices have dropped below $360 per tonne since shredded scrap typically commands a $5-per-tonne premium to heavy melt, they added.
A day earlier, a trader sold a smaller, 28,000-tonne vessel to Turkey at a composite price of slightly less than $365 per tonne for a mix of HMS 1&2 (90:10) and shredded scrap.
A flurry of bulk sales from Europe, the United Kingdom and Russia to Turkey also hovered around $360 per tonne for HMS 1&2 (80:20), with heavy melt sales from the United Kingdom reported in a range of $355 to $358 per tonne c.i.f. Turkey.
Sources are uncertain whether these record lows are an indication that the market has found its floor or if further declines are imminent.
"Last November, I think it got down to $364 or $363," one exporter said. "Before that, I think the last time it went below $360 was in the summer of 2010."
A second exporter said that he was unsure if prices would fall further, but noted that market conditions remain discouraging.
"It is very serious: the crisis in sales of finished steel, lack of demand, low prices and the fact that many steel producers are losing money. There is overproduction and (there are) 20 sellers to one buyer," he said.
Declining export selling prices forced exporters to lower domestic buying prices for scrap delivered to their docks, according to a few sources. Exporters are attempting to buy No. 1 heavy melt at $290 per tonne or less with mixed success, they said.