Turkish buyers refocus on HRC imports as prices slump

Following a silent period since mid-March amid an uncertain environment arising from the globally expanding COVID-19 outbreak, Turkish buyers, whose stocks fell to very low levels, have made some hot-rolled coil import bookings, especially from Russia last week, as import prices slumped, informed sources told S&P Global Platts Monday.

Turkish buyers booked around 100,000 mt of May rolling HRC particularly from the CIS region in the range of $385-$390/mt CFR over the last ten days, sources said.

Import offers from other suppliers were around $400-$405/mt CFR last week but didn’t attract any buying interest in Turkey, as domestic mills’ HRC offers for sizeable bookings to some major pipe makers fell as low as $410-$415/mt ex-works last week. Some mills’ export offers fell below $400/mt FOB.

Although the latest low-priced import bookings have put further pressure on Turkish mills’ HRC quotations amid low demand, Turkish mills have been generally offering HRC to the domestic market around at $430/mt ex-works and above this week, amid the notable rise seen in imported scrap prices, which reached as high as $250/mt CFR in Turkish mills’ latest bookings at the end of last week, amid some availability issues.

“There are even some attempts for $260/mt CFR for imported scrap this week,” a trade source told Platts Monday.

Cash flow problems arising from sharp exchange rate fluctuations have continued to limit trade activites in the Turkish market, as Turkish lira lost another roughly 1% in value against the US dollar on the first trading day of the week.

HRC imports reach 1.28 million mt in 3 months

Before the virus outbreak silenced demand in Turkey, Turkish HRC imports rose sharply year on year and hit roughly 1.28 within three months, according to the latest Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) data sent to S&P Global Platts.

After reaching as high as 450,000 mt in December and 444,000 mt in the first month of 2020, Turkish buyers’ imports of HRC reached as high as 387,000 mt in February, higher than the 332,000 mt imported in the same month the previous year.

Russia remained Turkey’s top HRC supplier in February at 130,000 mt, while imports from Ukraine totaled 93,200 mt in that month, around double year on year.

Turkey’s HRC imports from South Korea rose more than five-fold year on year to 36,800 mt in February, while imports from one of Turkey’s largest European HRC suppliers, France, totaled 33,500 mt in that month, up 73% year on year.

Other HRC suppliers to Turkey in February were; Brazil (24,700 mt), Japan (20,000 mt) Romania (18,500 mt) and Italy (11,000 mt), the latest TUIK data showed.

— Cenk Can