CHINA HRC: Exporter concerns grow over global spread of coronavirus

Chinese hot-rolled coil exporters expressed growing concern over thin trading caused by the global spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Thursday March 12, despite improved control of the outbreak within China.

Domestic
Eastern China (Shanghai): 3,500-3,520 yuan ($503-506) per tonne, widening downward by 10 yuan per tonne
Northern China (Tangshan): 3,330-3,340 yuan per tonne, widening downward by 10 yuan per tonne
Sellers were keeping offers largely stable although trading was thinner than on Wednesday.
A trader based in Tianjin said some sellers preferred to hold inventories rather than clearing them at lower prices, in the expectation that government actions to revive China's economy will lead to a recovery in demand.
Mi Feng, spokesman at the National Health Commission, said at a conference today that the peak in China’s coronavirus epidemic had passed, after mass of provinces nationwide reported no growth in infections for more than a week.
In response, several provinces have lowered their emergency response levels, and local governments are drawing up plans to reopen retail stores and speed up industrial production and construction projects to speed up the revival of the economy.
Market participants expect steel demand to rebound soon as a result, especially after some mill inventories started to decline.
Although the country’s HRC inventories increased in the spot market, mill stocks totaled 1.63 million tonnes by Thursday, down 230,600 tonnes from the previous week, according to a domestic steel consultancy.
Export 
Fastmarkets’ steel hot-rolled coil index export, fob main port China: $455.89 per tonne, down $0.44 per tonne
A Shanghai-based trader said that a northern China mill had sold some HRC to traders at $455-460 per tonne fob yesterday, with tonnages undisclosed.
This price was below what mills had claimed was the lowest acceptable price - $460 per tonne fob - but market participants said there was not much room for negotiation below that because mills would simply shift focus to the domestic market if export prices fall significantly.
A source at a second mill northern China said that $460 per tonne fob was already quite close to its domestic ex-works price.
Many exporters, however, fear that trading in the coming few weeks will be thin if mills continue to insist on high offers, while global demand weakens.
The Italian government has ordered a shutdown of all retailers except for food stores and pharmacies after the 2019-nCoV infection rate there passed 10,000, while the United States announced a ban on flights from most European countries (excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland) in response to a surge in the global infection rate outside China.
Market chatter
“China’s HRC market could cool, with overseas demand weakening, while domestically prices would be stable amid the economic recovery. We traders now offer HRC at $470 per tonne cfr Vietnam - around $458 per tonne fob China - while Vietnam buyers are asking around $445 per tonne fob,” a Zhejiang-based trader said.
Shanghai Futures Exchange
The most-traded May HRC futures contract closed at 3,503 yuan per tonne on Thursday, up 19 yuan per tonne from Wednesday.

Miranda Song

miranda.song@fastmarkets.com

Published

Miranda Song

March 12, 2020

11:26 GMT

Shanghai