The billet import market continues to ascend in East Asia, despite the impending Lunar New Year, Kallanish notes. An Indonesian blast furnace mill, which has been actively exporting to China and Taiwan, has raised its offers by $5/tonne since late last week to $650/t cfr East Asia.

Some trading sources report the mill concluded 150mm billet for March shipment at $650/t cfr on 25 January. A 20,000-tonne 150mm SAE 1006 mesh-grade wire rod-making cargo for February/March shipment from the above-mentioned mill was booked at $642/t cfr Taiwan around 20 January. Chinese trading sources heard that a well-known Chinese trader took the cargo. A Shanghai trader thinks the recent deals are due to speculative position taking.

The Indonesian mill is soon expected to raise its offer prices to $655-660/t cfr. “Some traders have indicated offers close to $660/t cfr for the mill’s billet,” a Manila trader says. Quotes have recently become scarce in the market. “I think mills and traders are withholding offers based on bullish expectations post-Lunar New Year holiday,” he continues.

In Thailand, billet users ordered Iranian 150mm 5sp March-shipment billet at $620/t cif Thailand this week. “Local billet prices are increasing due to the continued price hikes in domestic scrap,” a Bangkok trader says. Rebar mills are starting to hike prices by THB 800/t ($24/t) this week.

Another source says that users booked Iranian billet at $615-620/t cif last week and on Monday because it is cheaper than other-origin material. “Offers are drying up because suppliers are trying to increase prices,” he says. Iranian billet bookings bottomed at $605-610/t cif Thailand in early January. Indian billet was offered last week at $630/t cif Thailand.