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      US purchase lifts CIS pig iron higher

      Date:Nov 25,2020

      CIS merchant pig iron prices have moved up a notch with the first purchase by a US buyer, at a level that was expected last week.

      A major Russian merchant pig iron exporter sold a 50,000-tonne lot with February-loading tag at $430/tonne cfr Nola, netting back to $412/t fob Baltic Sea. This sale was in the wake of a deal to China at $422/t through a trader on 16 November, netting back to $390/t fob Black Sea. Current offers are at $430-440/t fob, the supplier tells Kallanish.

      Another supplier confirms the return of US buyers with enquiries but is not in negotiations, it says. Two other suppliers were likely closing February-loading books with US buyers this week, considering their high client base in the country, traders note.

      Most participants were expecting US buyers to accept prices close to offer levels in the vacuum of availability from Brazil, and China's ongoing appetite potentially diverting supply away from the US. Sources note that even at $450/t cfr Nola, the US sheet price increase is affording a good margin, and suggest that US sheet prices can only continue to increase, considering the possible amplitude of the rebound.

      US plate prices were at a decade-high of around $1,070/short ton ex-works during the first quarter of 2019, but declined steadily thereafter to a low of $610/st in May this year. With the US presidential election out of the way – albeit with its certification still awaited – confidence is returning to the US flat products market, observers note.

      More CIS pig iron bookings are expected this week, while Brazilian material is also likely to be booked, as China's appetite receives a new boost from the steel price rally starting last week. New Brazilian offers are likely to start at $410-420/t fob for March-loading material, as availability remains tight and some steel producers are even importing captive material from the CIS.

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