Steel Sheet Price Rebounds in ASEAN

Sheet steel market price rebounded in Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the first time in 10 months. The import volume decreased under progressing inventory adjustment in Asia. The sheet price increased by US$ 35 to US$ 460 per tonne for hot rolled coil and by US$ 35 to US$ 660 for cold coil in Thailand from January. The price increased by US$ 30 to US$ 480 for hot coil and to US$ 600 for cold coil in Vietnam after the price rebounded in mid-February. Sheet suppliers of South Korea and Taiwan increased the selling price after Baoshan Iron and Steel of China announced in late February the price hike for April-June. The price could keep increasing when Japanese cold rolling maker in Thailand also considers increasing the selling price in April. The sheet market price kept decreasing in ASEAN since May 2005 due to oversupply in Asia. The price hit bottom in the beginning of 2006 and started to increase in mid February after the import to ASEAN decreased from South Korea and Taiwan since the end of 2005 due to price rebound in China. The inventory adjustment progressed in ASEAN countries. A source of Japanese trading firm said Japanese coil centers in Thailand reduced the inventory to the balanced level from October-December to January-February. The better supply balance lifted the market price. Japanese cold rolling makers in Thailand operate at higher utilization rate since mid-February due to higher order received. They increased the selling price for March shipment preparing another hike in April. Thai largest hot rolling maker, Sahaviriya Steel Industries increased the export offer price of hot coil to FOB US$ 470 per tonne citing higher cost price of slab when Chinese steel makers increased the hot coil offer price by US$ 30-40. Thai steel demand is firm for Japanese and local automakers and appliances makers. Vietnamese demand is also firm for Japanese appliances transplants. A source of Japanese trader in Thailand said Japanese coil centers are busy to meet strong demand from manufacturers in Thailand and Vietnam. Local traders keep the price of high-valued steel products for users. The market price, however, is still low for commodity grade steel products shipped for construction, distributors and packaging applications. The construction used steel price also increased for various items and the price increased by US$ 25 to US$ 750 per tonne for hot dip galvanizing steel and by US$ 35 to US$ 450 for concrete reinforcing steel bar.