NEW YORK Indian import prices for containerized shipments of ferrous scrap gained a few dollars this past week as strong demand from specific regions helped offset the absence of any meaningful demand from other regions in the country.
Market participants reported stronger demand from mills in southern India, while buyers in northern India were absent following the weakening of the Indian rupee against the dollar.
Mill buyers in the south reported a busy week of trading despite the rupee losing some ground, noting that their push for volumes helped prices inch higher.
Buyers in southern India, along with sellers and traders from the United States and Europe, reported transactions of containerized shredded scrap in a range of $400 to $405 per tonne c.f.r. Nhava Sheva, up $3 to $5 per tonne from a week earlier.
Meanwhile, those trading into northern India reported a weak market with little to no trades and a bid-offer range of $395 to $405 per tonne, with buyers at the low end and exporters at the top end.
Many said they expect little activity from buyers in the north until the results of Indias general elections are declared.
"The (southern) market is quite stable and the demand is slightly better. People are waiting for the elections to be completed, and after the result the market may take a positive mode," one buyer for a large southern Indian producer said.
This past weeks stronger market in a weakening currency environment caught many buyers off guard, which could have also triggered the lack of buying activity from some regions, one Mumbai-based trader said.
"The market for May is getting stronger. This has taken most Indian mills by surprise," he said.
However, one large exporter speculated that the market has likely peaked. "Indian markets were very firm until last weekend. Though shred was not being bid over $400, No. 1 heavy melt from Dubai touched $395 and in some cases smaller cut material hit $400 too. However, the recent weakening of the rupee ... has caused the buyers to take a breather," he said.
"I personally feel the markets in India and Pakistan have peaked for now. I expect a $10 to $15 correction from here. Indias monsoons are expected to be weak, which means there will be shift of power from industry to irrigation. This reduces demand traditionally. Pakistan goes into Ramadan month (at the end of) June. This too will affect their buying appetite," he added.
U.S. suppliers were divided on the markets direction, with one speculating that there is a little more room for prices to increase, while a second supplier said buyer apprehension has already kicked in.
"I sold shred at $355 per tonne f.a.s. this week. I did hear someone offering $365. I will be looking for that $10 on next weeks order," the first U.S. supplier said.
But the second supplier said Indian buyers were quiet this past week. "There was an initial flurry of offers at $360 f.a.s., but since then prices have dropped to the $353 to $355 range for shred," he said.
British and European exporters, meanwhile, said they were bullish and reportedly raised offer prices for shred to $405 to $410 per tonne.