29-06-2018

Trade War Speculation Unsettles Emerging Steel Markets

Challenging business conditions persist in Brazil. Domestic buyers remark that the current initiative to lift prices is ill-timed, counterproductive and would only escalate import tonnages.

Russian trading houses are booking for only immediate requirements due to price fluctuations and working capital problems. Activity deteriorated further, once the 2018 FIFA World Cup started. Shipments to construction and infrastructure projects remain steady, but demand from the commercial and private residential building sector is weak. End-users continue to experience financial problems.

In India, steel distributors, operating in southern states, witnessed a fall in business activity with the early onset of the monsoon season. Buyers are reluctant to purchase finished steel material and are waiting for prices to decline. Meanwhile, the Modi government announced that it will impose retaliatory tariffs on US finished steel goods (effective August 4).

The prognosis for the Ukrainian steel market is unchanged. Bearish dealers prefer to wait and observe the current market situation. Buying sentiment is shaped by expectations of further price fluctuations. Exporters lifted selling figures, actioned by an upturn in the cost of billet, slab and steelmaking raw materials.

Challenging trading conditions persist in Turkey. Deliveries to downstream steel consuming industries remain slow, amid weak post-Ramadan demand growth and political uncertainty stemming from the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Additionally, exporters report that the tariffs on steel, imposed by the United States, have increased the competitiveness of their finished steel products, relative to their Canadian, Mexican and European counterparts.

Emirati service centres are extremely reluctant to purchase material in, what they deem as, precarious business conditions. Shipments to the construction sector and pipe fabricators remained slow in the trading period. During the summer months, building activity is constrained by high temperatures. Export opportunities are limited outside the GCC region.

The trading environment remains downbeat in South Africa. Distributors condemned the latest upward adjustments as “unwarranted” given the current trading climate. Construction activity in the public sector is at a standstill, at present, as the market awaits government decisions on new investments.

Purchasing activity remains moderate in Mexico. The majority of local stockists are refraining from signing any contracts at the moment. Shipments of finished steel products to the United States have halted, this month, due to uncertainty over US trade tariffs.

Source: MEPS

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