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Kallanish Steel Weekly: The Black Sea billet prices could have peaked (March 22, 2022)

Despite the wide-ranging sanctions on Russian financial, business and economic sectors, Russian mills continue to offer their material for export. But producers are facing the choice of taking all risks or having no sales, while traders, who are willing to continue working with Russian mills, are running out of options due to major financing and freight issues.

The initial shock of zeroing Ukrainian and Russian billet supply pushed up prices in the Mediterranean region, with offers from Asian suppliers pouring in. Turkish billet gained $200/tonne in the last three weeks, to the current level of around $940/t ex-works, and $910-920/t fob Turkey for export. 

Some sales were concluded in the past week at considerably high prices, circling around $900-910/t cfr for Russian material in Egypt, and $870-880/t cfr in Turkey. However, the lack of momentum in Asian domestic markets appears to have pulled the plug on the ascending price dynamic, traders say.

Indeed, Asian domestic billet prices have never caught up with Mediterranean levels, and some regional suppliers were seen withdrawing offers from a westerly direction in the absence of buying interest. There were bids, but they were at levels much lower than offers, participants say, adding that there was not enough billet exported out of Asia to cause shortages that would buoy local prices.