CIS slab prices are following the flat steel price dynamic and continuing to weaken, despite there being no issue with demand in the past week, market sources tell Kallanish.
After Turkish mills replenished their stocks with the last purchase at around $410/tonne cfr, from a Russian supplier, Turkey departed the market, replaced by the Americas and southern Europe. Despite the lockdown imposed by the spread of Covid-19 in Italy, regular slab volumes were sold at around $405/t cfr, netting back to $380-385/t fob, while North American buyers secured Russian volumes at $380/t fob Black Sea, having been observing the market for the past two weeks.
In Asia, demand is only coming from China, and at around $400-410/t cfr, its bid indications are almost high enough to sweep up the rest of CIS availability, provided sellers are prepared to make price consessions. Most market sources see Chinese demand as a saving grace to the CIS semis export market, by the virtue of its presence - "demand is the only factor in the market today that is making difference. It is either there or not - sellers are almost at the point of selling at any prices they are offered, considering the uncertainty," one market source explains.
April casting allocations are closed for at least one Russian mill, but availability can be ample, as some slab from non-traditional suppliers has been noticed in the market too. As the CIS flat products export market continues to soften, two Russian flat steel producers are indicating readiness to sell slab, traders say.
Slab prices are likely to continue following flat products' price trajectory, at least until the market returns to its more traditional state of interplay between supply and demand, sources note.