Merchant pig iron market lull intensifies

The inertia that has been gripping the merchant pig iron market continued throughout the past week with no deals taking place and buyers’ indications moving further down, Kallanish reports.

In the Mediterranean, only one sale was heard of Russian origin material to Italy, at an approximate fob level of around $530/tonne ($565/t cfr). Considering indications from buyers at much lower $530-540/t cfr levels during the week, the sale could either be of a higher quality material, or an older one. There are still considerable stocks in the port of Meghera and a large number of offers from non-CIS suppliers, at $540-550/t cfr (see related story).

Turkey is also not in a mood for buying, as scrap imports prices have softened by around $25/t from the $500/t cfr peaks, and the national currency remains at historically low levels against the US dollar, complicating import trade. Sliding prices of finished products are weighing also, but some sources anticipate a change in scrap direction in January, amid CIS scrap export restrictions expectations to wipe out offers for a while. 

Meanwhile, US domestic scrap settlement levels with November prices kept US buyers remained on the fence, wiping away CIS sellers’ hopes to sell at $570-590/t cfr Nola and keeping Brazilian indications at $500-510/t fob, or $540-550/t cfr Nola. Brazilian sellers have, as expected, started offering to Italy, in the knowledge of high stocks and low appetite for pig iron in the US before Christmas. February loading is still available from Brazilian suppliers, which is still further ahead than CIS material, giving the latter buyers’ preference. 

Asian importing interest has gotten even quieter, with Indian pig iron offers down around $10/t on-week to $480-490/t fob this week, with China indicating the same level on cfr basis as a possible interest. Very few sales – if any at all – are expected this side of the new year, traders say, amid ongoing uncertaintly, new Covid-19 variants fears and generally low demand.

Katya Ourakova UK