Black Sea billet prices rose this week, supported by firm scrap prices as well as Middle Eastern buying, and the market was seen remaining firm for the remainder of the year, traders said.
Traders quoted Black Sea free-on-board (fob) billet at around $570-$605 a tonne this week, from prices around $565-$580 last week.
Scrap prices in Turkey, one of the world's top consumers of the steel-making feed, have been holding above the $400 mark, traders said.
"There is a lot if demand from the Middle East, the Far East the Mediterranean markets so we've some quite significant increases in demand and in pricing over the last week," one trader said.
"It's partly a recognition that scrap is going only in one direction for now because of winter," he said.
"Customers who have been holding out hoping it would go down have now realised they've now got to look forward to at least another 6 to 7 weeks of price increases."
Steel prices on the Chinese spot market rose slightly this week as demand continued to hold out despite fears of an imminent winter lull.
Steel prices looked likely to gain support until the end of January from buyers returning to the market after holding off recently, the chairman of Stemcor, the world's largest independent steel trader, said. The market is going to remain firm well into January," the trader said.
PRICES SEEN RISING STILL
Demand was strong in the Middle East and traders said they expected prices to go even higher by the end of the year."Demand is strong in Turkey, Dubai and Iran and also now Egypt, so there is demand," another trader said. "We are expecting prices to go up to $620 by the end of the year.
A third trader was a little more cautious.
"There will be some upward movement in Q1 for sure but it still remains to be seen at what level," he said.
"The stocks are running on the low side for most international buyers ... so that would probably support some restocking. But the question is that, if people do restock, how long will that continue for."
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Tata Steel said it is to raise prices for structural steel in the United Kingdon by 50 pounds per tonne effective for all deliveries from Jan. 2, 2011.
Japan's steelmakers, squeezed by a shrinking domestic market and a strong yen, will probably step up plans to relocate to low-cost countries as they try to stay ahead of rapidly-expanding competitors.
Nippon Steel Corp 5404.T aims to raise prices of H-beam steel after industry-wide inventories at distributors fell to a record low at the end of November, a company source said on Thursday.
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