The Gulf Cooperation Council's sole hot rolled coil producer, the Saudi major, has cut its 3mm SPHC base grade prices by $20/tonne versus August to $680/t delivered nationwide for September rolling.

In the absence of Indian mill supply, Far Eastern major Nippon Steel has no allocation for the region for September loading due to a planned maintenance shutdown that month at one of its mills. Its margins are also better in other export destinations. Its October-shipment prices are yet to be issued in the GCC, notes Kallanish.

"Overall, there is no market. There is no appetite to buy in Vietnam, Europe or Turkey. The lack of demand is weighing on prices," says a senior trading company official.

Two weeks ago, the bloc's largest re-roller booked 35,000 tonnes of multiple grades and thicknesses of HRC from a top-tier Chinese mill through a trading house at an average price of nearly $570/t for August shipment. Of this, 2mm SAE 1006 grade was pegged at $577/t.

Last week, the top-tier Chinese mill made a $5/t reduction on its prices, which did not however induce any interest. A re-roller booked 10,000t of ex-China cold rolled full hard 0.35mm+ thickness through a trading house at around $595/t for August shipment.

This week, ex-China quotes remain the same as last week, while the Taiwanese major made a marginal reduction in its 2mm SAE 1006 grade HRC price to $588/t, down from $595/t in mid-June. The first-tier Chinese mills' base (S235JR 3mm) HRC price is prevailing at around $555/t for small volumes of 1,000-2,000t, but for large volumes a $10-13/t compromise is very likely for August/early-September load readiness.

However, due to the lack of domestic demand and inability of export markets to absorb Chinese export allocations, there is still availability among a few Chinese mills to ship ordered quantities at the end of July. The Chinese leading thin-gauge supplier has also not changed its 1.2mm SPHT-1 grade price from last week's $600-603/t for August shipment, with a margin being negotiable.

All prices are based on LC at sight basis and cfr Dammam or Jebel Ali.

In the United Arab Emirates, 1mm Z120 grade GI is trading at $830/t for in-country delivery.

"The buyers are inactive as the prices have not been changed from last week, but, like a joke, they [buyers] are counter bidding at the quoted levels but for LC-90 days. Finance costs compel us to add another $20/t on LC at sight numbers, which is rejected by the buyers," comments a trading source.