The CIS billet export market has remained in a lull this past week, with no sales taking place and pressure mounting on sellers to reduce offers.
Enquiries have withered, along with offers, with activity expected to pick up next week, but at levels below those seen in the most recent sales, traders tell Kallanish. However, some sources continue to cite limited billet availability from CIS producers on the back of the budding construction season in the CIS, which traditionally takes much of mills' billet allocations.
US sanctions on Iran appear to have injected more vigour into Asia Pacific buyers, with prices flat on the pre-sanctions round of trade but activity somewhat higher than expected. This may lead to Black Sea sellers switching to those markets, as the region's concluded prices of $445-450/tonne cfr make Black Sea suppliers' offers workable again, traders note.
The time-out in trade is also attributed to numerous fundamental factors shifting at the same time, putting both buyers and sellers into guessing positions, several sources say. This may result in a protracted withdrawal, and some traders' expectations of trade resuming in the Mediterranean/Middle East and North Africa region may be far-fetched.
At the same time, Asia may come out with its last pre-Lunar New Year bookings, relieving CIS mills of most of their February material. This would place them yet again into the comfort zone of closed order books.
CIS mills are now indicating they would accept $410-413/t fob in negotiations with buyers, and ask for firm offers. Buyers are citing $400/t fob as the most workable price.