NEW YORK U.S. ferrous scrap exports plummeted in April after a drop-off in demand from what are normally the four largest buyers of U.S. scrap sent monthly volumes below 1 million tonnes for the first time in six-and-a-half years.
U.S. ferrous scrap exports dropped to 979,273 tonnes in April, about half the 1,964,137 tonnes shipped abroad the previous month and 1,889,238 tonnes in April 2012, according to the latest U.S. Commerce Department data. Ferrous scrap exports havent retreated below 1 million tonnes since October 2006, when deliveries to offshore buyers totaled 983,097 tonnes (amm.com, Dec. 15, 2006).
The decline in exports was led by shipments to Turkey at 50,451 tonnes, down more than 91 percent from the previous month and from 617,711 tonnes in April last year.
AMM records show at least six bulk cargoes were sold to Turkey in late April, including one from Puerto Rico, but most cargoes appear to have shipped from U.S. ports after the close of Commerces data-collection period for the month and those volumes are expected to figure into the May statistics.
Nevertheless, it was a dire month for volumes shipped from U.S. ports. In addition to the near-complete erosion of cargoes shipped to Turkey, shipments to South Korea, China and Taiwan were equally bleak.
Koreas intake from U.S. suppliers fell to 109,415 tonnes in April, down 51.8 percent from the previous month and 48.6 percent below 213,065 tonnes in April 2012. Market participants attributed the decline mainly to the availability of cheaper scrap from Japan after policy changes to the yen made exports from the country more favorable for Korean mills.
Chinas consumption of U.S. scrap totaled 129,380 tonnes in April, down 27.6 percent from the previous month and 26.7 percent from 176,620 tonnes a year earlier.
And Taiwans intake of 241,685 tonnes was down 11.1 percent from March and 19.6 percent from 300,544 tonnes in April last year.
No. 1 heavy melt scrap exports took the largest hit in April at 271,309 tonnes, down 58.7 percent from 657,404 tonnes the previous month and 656,438 tonnes a year earlier.
Shredded scrap shipments totaled 261,077 tonnes, down more than 53 percent from 561,296 tonnes in March and 565,591 tonnes in April last year, while No. 2 heavy melt exports plunged to 16,451 tonnes in April, down 81.7 percent from 89,927 tonnes the previous month and 83.9 percent from 102,408 tonnes a year earlier.