Black Sea billet slides on markets nervousness

Reuters, Friday 16 Sep 2011

Black Sea billet prices fell this week because buyers postponed purchases as nervousness about the health of the global economy weighed on sentiment

Traders quoted Black Sea billet at $670-680 a tonne free-on-board (fob) Russia and Ukraine, compared with $680-685 last week. Turkish billet was on offer at $680-690 fob from $695-705 per tonne last week.

A European trader said he received an offer at $670 fob Turkey.

"Everything stopped last week when the stock markets fell three days in a row and when the euro started to plummet," the trader said.

"All this weighed on sentiment. Having a long position today is a bet."

Last week, producers and most traders were forecasting a price increase as demand for billet, particularly from Iran, was looking strong.

"Iran can't buy enough steel to push the market up through the roof," said a second trader based in London. "The fact everyone is banging on about Iran buying shows that there is no demand anywhere else," he added.

"I see no argument for the market to go up much at the moment given the risk-off environment with a stronger dollar and weaker credit market."

European mills benefited of a weaker euro and held their offer prices firm at 475-480 euro($658-665)fob Southern Europe, similar to last week.

Traders said the market is likely to stabilize in the next few days.

"We don't see prices move much lower," said a third billet trader. "They came off a bit but the confidence is coming back."

Prices for hot melted steel scrap 80/20 mix eased back a little this week and were at $466-467 per tonne cfr Turkey, from $474-476 per tonne last Friday, according to the Platts steel scrap assessment.

Turkey is the world's largest importer of steel scrap--a key raw material to produce steel long products, at almost 20 million tonnes last year.

On the London Metal Exchange, the benchmark billet contract was at $572-585 a tonne, from a close at $585 a tonne last Friday.

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