Black Sea billet export prices are little changed this week amid slow demand and limited supply availability, and prices are unlikely to change much in the next few weeks when Ramadan will slow down trading in key import areas.
Traders quoted Black Sea billet at $680-690 a tonne free-on-board (fob) Russia and Ukraine for September delivery, a similar level to last week, but few sales were achieved, mainly to traders taking positions.
Turkish billet was on offer at $690-700 fob, a similar price compared with last week, but buyers were bidding at $675-680 per tonne and due to the mismatch between demand and offer no major transactions were concluded.
"It is a bit of a weird situation," said a London-based billet trader. "Nobody is really interested in buying and nobody is really interested in selling at the moment."
As Ramadan approaches steel demand is expected to slow down.
Workers in Muslim countries will be fasting during Ramadan, expected to start around August 1, and this, coupled with hot weather, will slow down construction in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
However, prices are not expected to plummet as the offer for billet is not abundant.
"With Ramadan approaching I think demand will be slack but prices should remain stable," a European billet trader said.
"There is not excess of offer, volume wise. Prices may fall by $10 but not much more."
Billet offer from Russia and Ukraine was limited because the domestic market processed and consumed a fair amount of billet as construction picked up in the last few weeks, traders said.
"There is not much billet available for August delivery so if somebody needs to buy for prompt delivery they will have to accept the Turkish prices and this will sustain prices," the first trader said.
Prices for steel scrap, a key steel making raw material were little changed at about $460-475 per tonne cost-and-freight(cfr)Turkey.
"Scrap is still flat; there were no new bookings last week so there is also almost not much to reference it to," said a scrap trader. "Short sea (cargoes)are still on offer at $460/mt cfr which is no change at all to the previous weeks."
On the London Metal Exchange, the benchmark billet contract was at $585/590 a tonne, from $585 a tonne last Monday.