LME scrap, rebar trading volumes increase

Most near-term scrap and rebar futures contracts on the London Metal Exchange saw losses over the week to Dec. 23, while trading volumes increased.

Platts assessed the December scrap contract up $3/mt week on week at $464/mt on Dec. 23. The January contract decreased $2/mt to $451.50/mt. The February contract fell $9/mt week on week to $440.50/mt. The March contract dropped $7/mt to $435/mt.

The backwardated structure for the December-February forward curve strengthened week on week, suggesting that futures traders are firmer on their expectations of a further near-term drop in physical scrap prices.

The backwardation over the February to March portion of the forward curve softened.

Spot prices for physical imports of premium heavy melting scrap 1/2 80:20 dropped $4/mt week on week to $461/mt CFR Turkey on Dec. 23, as several scrap cargoes were heard booked the week started Dec. 20.

The Turkish lira strengthened sharply against the US dollar over Dec. 20-22 after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the government would cover losses for lira deposit holders, should lira losses against foreign currencies exceed banks’ interest rates.

Market sources expect this appreciation in the currency against the dollar to subsequently improve demand for scrap cargoes. Sources said four mills were actively seeking further January shipment cargoes, with some also keen to buy for February shipment.

“Since yesterday, mills are actively looking for January shipments, and Christmas is at the door, so I think we already touched the bottom,” one agent source said.

Weekly LME scrap futures trading volumes over the week to Dec. 23 totaled 31,360 mt, up from 22,300 mt recorded the previous week.

Most near-term rebar futures contracts also saw losses over the week to Dec. 23. Platts assessed the December contract down $2.50/mt week on week at $694.50/mt on Dec. 23, while the December contract lost $4/mt to $685.50/mt. The January contract dipped 50 cents/mt to $679/mt, and the February contract rose $4.50/mt week on week to $674.50/mt.

The backwardated structure of the December-January portion of the forward curve strengthened slightly week on week, suggesting that futures traders expect further near-term downtrend in physical prices.

The backwardation over the January to March portion of the forward curve softened suggesting that futures traders expect the physical price downtrend over the period to be less drastic than previously anticipated.

Turkish physical rebar export prices were stable at $690/mt FOB on Dec. 23, after a drop to $682.50/mt on Dec. 20, as Turkish mills tried to maintain workable levels for rebars in the export market despite slow demand. Though market sources also reported a fresh deal totaling 15,000 mt to Germany by a Marmara mill, overall the market remained quiet while the Turkish lira recovered from record lows.

Rebar futures weekly trading volumes on the LME totaled 13,930 mt, up from 12,850 mt traded volume the previous week.

Elsewhere, Indian scrap futures saw three consecutive days of trading over Dec. 20-22, with a total of 180 mt traded. A total of 2,850 mt has traded so far on the contract, which settles basis the Platts CFR Nhava Sheva shredded scrap index, since its launch in late July.

The daily outright spread between Turkish export rebar and import scrap was assessed at $229/mt Dec. 23, up $4/mt week on week.

— Rabia Arif