FOCUS: China an unlikely winner in Asia billet market rout

China’s appetite for importing steel billet despite high levels of steel inventories indicates growing confidence that a rebound in the domestic steel sector is expected in the near future, a stark contrast to virus-induced uncertainty worldwide.

This could alleviate the pressure on regional prices with other Asian steelmakers struggling to exhaust billet surpluses due to a consumption slowdown during the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) pandemic, market sources told Fastmarkets.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Wuhan visit [on March 10] provided a major boost to sentiment within the country that the virus has been contained and business activity should continue to improve,” an Indian trader said.
China had 80,860 confirmed coronavirus cases by the end of March 15, an increase of 16 from a day earlier, according to the country’s National Health Commission. The commission also reported that 67,749 patients had recovered while there had been 3,213 casualties.

An Indonesian steelmaker sold 20,000 tonnes of April-shipment 150mm billet into China last week at $395 per tonne fob, or about $407-410 per tonne cfr China, amid an open arbitrage window between international and domestic prices....


Jessica Zong

Lee Ken Kiat

March 17, 2020

06:05 GMT

Singapore, Shanghai