Billet prices in SE Asia keep rising, demand limited as all eyes on China

Thursday, 06 May 2021 16:09:35 (GMT+3)   |   Istanbul
       

The uptrend has continued in the Southeast Asian billet market this week with the number of offers being limited. Most sources expected a price hike today, May 6, as China returned from its holiday, and prices have in fact increased. As a result, the buying activity in SE Asia has been muted so far and most customers are trying to figure out the real market price level, following the sharp rises.

The SteelOrbis reference price for import billet in the Philippines has reached $690-700/mt CFR, up by $15/mt from last week’s levels of $675-685/mt CFR.

The new price level corresponds to offers heard earlier this week, mainly for Asian origin billet. But overall the number of offers has been low so far and on Thursday most suppliers have been focusing on offering higher prices to China, rather than entering negotiations in Southeast Asia.

“I really doubt that there will be bookings this week. The price increase has gone crazy,” a Manila-based trader said. The last deals were done mainly last week in the Philippines with the price reaching $685/mt CFR in contracts for ex-S. Korea billet and ex-Vietnam 150 mm billet.

“Most billet suppliers will be on fishing expeditions for higher billet prices to China after China's recent announcements [of removing import duties and cancelation of the tax rebates for rebar and wire rod],” a local re-roller said, adding that some time is needed for prices to settle. He also said that rebar prices are on the rise, “but still lagging behind the billet price increase.”

Some demand has been seen in Taiwan this week. Sources report a deal at $695/mt CFR for base grade. Most sources in Southeast Asia said that it is a fair price for now, but on Thursday, when China returned to the market with a readiness to buy at above $700/mt CFR, exporters have withdrawn offers below this level.

No fresh offers have been heard for ex-Iran billet from traders to Southeast Asia. They reached $670/mt CFR Thailand late last week, but a rise of at least $15-20/mt is expected in the near future, according to market sources.


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