NEW YORK West Coast export prices for containerized ferrous scrap continued their upward momentum through July, with prices gaining an additional $10 per tonne over the past two weeks.
Taiwanese mills continue to drive demand and support higher prices, and U.S. exportersbuoyed by a surge in bulk demand and stronger domestic pricescontinue to aim higher.
Most exporters said their latest containerized scrap transactions concluded at $350 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan for an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt scrap, with this weeks offers climbing as high as $355 per tonneup about $10 per tonne from mid-July and $20 since mid-June.
Prices for containerized exports outpaced the $10-per-tonne increase in bulk prices in July, narrowing the price differential. "The container market has edged back up and is again getting competitive with bulk. The spread continues to shrink between container and bulk," one exporter said. "Container heavy melt sold at $350 last week and is continuing to edge higher."
Market participants said they expect container prices to hold this week at around $350 per tonne, despite higher offers.
"This week will probably hold steady as the rebar market appears to be inching back a few dollars in Asia," the exporter said. "Rebar demand ebbs and flows in Asia, but all need scrap to make bar. Prices needed to come up in Asia to keep the scrap flowing, as U.S. domestic pricing had eclipsed export prices."
A second exporter said prices to Taiwan were rising because its mills need to replenish inventories in time for higher production runs in September, when seasonal energy restrictions come to an end.
A third source said improved finished goods sales in Taiwan are contributing to the increase in scrap demand and prices, while a fourth source said a stronger Japanese yen also has been influential in higher U.S. prices.
Mills in South Korea and China focused most of their attention in the past few months on scrap from Japan as the yen was more favorable vs. the dollar. However, the gradual strengthening of the yen is likely to bring those large consumers back to the U.S. for bulk orders, which could lift overall export prices, a fifth source said.
A buyer for a South Korean producer said he had received U.S. offers at $350 per tonne c.f.r. Korea but showed little interest. "We are still concentrating on low-price Japanese scrap," he said.