Sentiment and prices in Asian slab market improve on rising interest from China

Monday, 13 September 2021 16:28:37 (GMT+3)   |   Istanbul

Chinese customers have been showing greater interest in buying imported slabs over the past week, which has supported prices and sentiment in the Asian market, even though demand from other traditional slab buyers in the region has been reduced.

At least three deals have been reported for import slabs to China over the past week. A new Indonesian slab supplier has sold a cargo of around 20,000 mt to a Chinese trader at $755/mt CFR, SteelOrbis has learned. The deal is $24/mt higher compared to the previous sales by the same producer to China reported a week ago.

In addition, a cargo from a Malaysian producer has been traded at $760/mt CFR to China. One Indian private sector seller has also managed to find a taker in China for a lot at $758/mt CFR. Higher demand for import slabs in China is due to the severe production cuts, especially in Jiangsu Province, where some major slab users are located. Restrictions started on September 10 and will last until the middle of October at least, but most probably will be prolonged to December and early 2021.

“Indian slab prices are not below $750/mt CFR now,” an Indonesian customer said, while a week ago the lowest price was heard at $730/mt CFR. A contract has been heard at $740-750/mt CFR for an ex-India slab to Indonesia.

Most deals for import slabs to China done over the past week were for not prime grade slabs or not fitting all requirements, and so the price level even after the increase was lower compared to offers from higher grade slab suppliers.

For instance, Taiwanese customers have been getting offers from Russia and the main Iranian mill at $770-780/mt CFR, though no new deals have been heard so far as the situation in the HRC segment in the country has been weak and production at some re-rollers has been reduced to 50 percent in September.

The SteelOrbis reference price for imported slabs in Asia, based on higher quality slabs, has increased to $770-780/mt CFR, with the lower end of the range up by $20/mt over the past week.

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