NEW YORK Export prices for containerized ferrous scrap to Taiwan and South Korea inched marginally higher this week due to improving sentiment in the United States and Japan.
However, trading into most other Asian countriesincluding Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysiawas relatively quiet, market participants said, resulting in a conflicting week for exporters.
Although volumes sold to Taiwan and Korea were far from exciting, transactions recorded by buyers and sellers indicated a strengthening of about $2 per tonne on average this week compared with the previous week.
Containerized sales of an 80/20 mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt steel scrap were reported into Taiwan at $347 to $350 per tonne c.f.r. Taiwan, up from $345 to $348 per tonne a week ago (amm.com, Aug. 14).
Meanwhile, containerized HMS 1&2 (80:20) sales into Korea ranged from $345 to $350 per tonne c.f.r. Pusan, up from $340 to $350 per tonne the prior week, market participants said.
Some Korean mills also increased bid prices for Japanese H2-grade scrap (a mix of No. 1 and No. 2 heavy melt) to around 33,500 yen ($322.71) per tonne, up 1,000 yen ($9.63) from a week ago, with Japanese exporters reportedly countering with offers in a range of 34,000 to 35,000 yen ($327.53 to $337.16) per tonne.
Japanese sentiment received a boost following a scrap auction last week and expectations that the countrys steel mills will likely push for a $10-per-tonne increase in sheet prices over the next week.
"Japan seems to have rebounded a little bit," one Taiwanese trader told AMM, adding that Taiwans mills are hesitant to actively book scrap as they wait to see how much rebar is imported from China next month and at what price.
Trade into Asian markets other than Taiwan and Korea was dismal this week, one exporter said.
"Asia is dead. Not much buying other than Indonesia. Vietnamese buyers are using inspection companies to lodge claims on sellers and cheating. Thailand suffers from cheap Latin American cargo," he said.
U.S. container prices have come under pressure for some countries, a second exporter said. "There is some pressure to lower another $5 (per tonne), as Asian markets arent developing as hoped," he said.
A third exporter disagreed. "Containers have been steady and are holding in the $348-(per-tonne) range. I do sense blood in the water, as other dealers appear to be getting more aggressive in (the U.S.) market," he said.
Some West Coast suppliers expect U.S. prices to get a boost in the coming weeks as a result of strong domestic demand from U.S. mills and an anticipated uptick in bulk cargo shipments.
"Primes are few and far between out here. I think demand from Midwest mills may see Western suppliers asking for up money. Bulk exports are anemic, but I think they may wake up in late August/early September," according to one market participant.
There have been no reported bulk sales to Korea for nearly a month, when a cargo was booked at $372 per tonne for No. 1 heavy melt, delivered.
Some traders believe West Coast bulk prices will achieve a significant increase in the next few transactions, as offer prices to Korea are now at or above $385 per tonne, while some Middle Eastern mills also are said to be in the market for bulk scrap.