NEW YORK West Coast export prices for containerized ferrous scrap have dropped $20 per tonne over the past few weeks due to a decline in finished steel demand in key Far East Asian countries.
Market participants said prices have fallen to a range of $340 to $345 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan for an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt scrap, down $20 from the end of August (amm.com, Aug. 29) and as much as $15 below HMS 1&2 (80:20) prices of $355 per tonne that were recorded in the first two weeks of September.
"Once the Taiwanese sense a weakness they run the prices down until they impede flow. They also closely watch the U.S. market and adjust according to U.S. pricing," an exporter source said.
Although current market speculation points to potentially weaker export prices, a buyer for one producer in Taiwan said a trend reversal is possible in the coming week following the end of the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in Asia.
He said that $345 per tonne was the last price on Sept. 16. "We are expecting that by Wednesday it may increase. Rebar demand is expected to increase after the Asia autumn festival is over, and currency exchange rates are stronger in Asia by quite a bit after the U.S. Fed decided not to taper quantitative easing."
Most exporters, however, are bearish.
"With the potential for more domestic downside in October, I dont see the Taiwanese correcting prices this soon. If there is increased demand after the Chinese holiday that could change the market as scrap availability is still tight on the West Coast," the exporter source said.
A second exporter said he sees no immediate upside. "There is no demand anywhere for finished steel. I just dont see how there could be such a large return of demand that it could take the (scrap) market up," he said.
A third exporter said the market had lost more ground since Sept. 16 because the autumn holiday in China kept a lot of buyers out. "The container heavy melt value in Taiwan is $340. I dont hear much in the way of $345," he said.
Falling export prices forced bulk exporters in California to lower their buying prices from local suppliers by $10 to $20 per gross ton since the start of this month, with buying prices for No. 1 heavy melt reportedly in a range of $280 to $300 per gross ton, depending on location, volume and the last traded price.