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Analysis: Market split on billet, scrap market impact as Egypt suspends steel safeguards

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

Following an Egyptian administrative court’s reported suspension of safeguards on both rebar (25%) and billet (15%) imports, market participants remain divided over the wider market impact on billet and scrap.


“That could be good news now. I think demand could actually pick up again from Egypt,” which could stimulate buying of CIS billet, one UK-based trader said.


Re-rollers in Egypt have continued to import material from Turkey and the CIS during the last two months, even though at very low volumes, and are now expected to re-enter the international billet markets, supporting prices for the semi-finished product, some sources said.


For Black Sea sellers specifically this could prove beneficial as an alternative outlet, as more competitively priced domestic billet has limited CIS exports to Turkey of late.

Furthermore, it could also provide some relief to Turkish billet exporters–which saw their exports to Egypt in May more than halve from their monthly Q1 average since the safeguards took effect.


However, while there will be an effect on trade flows, changes on billet export prices will be limited on the back of sluggish end-user demand in Egypt and more limited buying interest regionally, other European and Turkish traders told Platts.


The latest reported trade between a trading company and a Ukraine-based steelmaker out of the Black Sea region were concluded at $422/mt and $425/mt FOB respectively, but Black Sea mills are now targeting selling prices above $430/mt FOB in upcoming sales.


SCRAP OUTLOOK DIVIDED

“I think it is bullish billet, bearish scrap,” one European trader said, as some substitution of billet with cheaper scrap imports into Egypt over the safeguard period could now be reversed, freeing up supply in the wider scrap markets.

In June, several European recyclers were reported to have sold various scrap cargoes to Egypt as buying interest for the raw material in the country had picked up.

However, one European recycler said that “for the foreseeable future does not expect less scrap demand as a significant portion of that demand emanates from the mills who are sufferng from a deficit of DRI pellets feedstock.”


Instead, scrap could further find support from a stronger regional billet price in general–an outlook that appeared to be confirmed by financial market players.


July futures on the London Metal Exchange rose $4.25/mt to $309.50/mt, while August futures were assessed at $310.50/mt on Thursday, up $4.50/mt on the day – around $10/mt above the current physical market assessment.


“Scrap has bottomed in the US. Iron ore/pig iron [is] expensive versus scrap. The Asia sales channel is open [and now ] Egypt reopening. […]. Can’t find a good reason to be bearish scrap,” one trader of the derivatives contracts said Thursday.

Source: Platts

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