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World Steel Dynamics | The WSD Team
Vice President (WSEM)
Mike Marley, steel industry ...
Mike Marley, steel industry analyst with World Steel Exchange Marketing, headquartered in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and author of the weekly newsletter "Mike Marley's Shredded Power," says Turkish mill buyers have for decades tended to binge buy ferrous scrap, which remained the case in 2015.
"They come in and buy 10 to 20 cargoes from all their suppliers," says Marley
, who adds that he
believes Turkish mill buyers tend to do all of their purchasing at once to ensure they have the needed supply in light of the long transport time from its three major supplying regions: the U.S., the Baltic and Western Europe.
says Turkish mills also tend to buy their raw materials well in advance, as it takes about five or six weeks for material to be gathered, loaded and shipped from most East Coast ports to Turkey.
"So when Turkey buys from the U.S., they usually buy two months in advance of what their needs are," Marley
One recent binge occurred in late November 2015, Marley
says, when Turkish mills booked East Coast cargoes likely to feed January-February 2016 production.
The November purchase was business as usual for Turkish consumers this year: USGS figures indicate that, on average, for the first eight months of 2015, Turkish consumers had imported 308,000 metric tons of U.S. steel scrap per month.
That is the equivalent of eight or nine Handymax vessels, which typically have from 35,000 to 50,000 deadweight tons of capacity.
further explains that while Turkish mill buyers also have purchased scrap from West Coast exporters, those deals are less prevalent and may have been facilitated by offers of bargain ocean freight rates from shipping companies looking to move one or more vessels to more active Atlantic Ocean trade routes.
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also referred to early December 2015 news of a prompt cargo shipment out of the Baltic Sea region, which can be delivered in about four weeks.
says this shipment may indicate the Turkish buyer is concerned about inventory.
That cargo was sold at $193 per ton for 80/20 HMS (heavy melting steel) and a bit more per ton for bonus grade (5-inch plate and structural scrap), while earlier shipments were purchased at lower prices.
"Guys on the East Coast are kind of concerned and are still looking for prices in the $190-to-$195 range," he
These exporters are likely to reason that if the Turkish buyer was willing to pay $193 for material from the Baltic region, he
should be willing to buy from them for at least $190 in the near term.
However, one "wild card" in the market that could affect the offered price for steel scrap, Marley
says, has been the low cost-around $250 delivered to Turkey-of Chinese billet, which, considering conversion costs and possible value-added tax, would require a U.S. ferrous scrap export price of between $180 and $185 to remain competitive, he
warns, "That could drop the price a bit."
says the biggest problem currently facing exporters on the U.S. East Coast is the availability of material from smaller dealers in the region.
"At the end of the year, some guys are going to sit on scrap and wait," Marley
says of these smaller dealers.
"I don't know if they can make any real commitments," he
says of the exporters.
"They may hold out for that $190-to-$195 range and try to keep the Turks at bay for a couple weeks," Marley
HMS is the main feedstock for Turkish mills, which prefer it to busheling and shredded scrap, he
"That's what they like to buy," Marley
"They don't necessarily care about shredded.
They will take some, but that's because it lines the bottom of the boat nicely."
says the markets are waiting to see whether the Turkish buyers will have another binge buy in the not-too-distant future.
"That's the big question: Will they need scrap and will the U.S. guys be willing to cut the price down to be competitive," he
Another key question, Marley
says, is how dependent Turkish mills are willing to become on Chinese billet, which could comprise a main source of feedstock going forward.
predicts one of Turkey's traditional suppliers, Russia, likely will be cutting all supplies of billet and scrap to Turkish mills in light of Turkey's November 2015 shoot down of a Russian fighter jet.
"That may leave them with few other places, except for the Baltic, Western Europe, the U.S. [for scrap] or billet from China," Marley
After adding tax and conversion costs to that of Chinese billet, the price comes to around $300 per ton, he
"You're still in the range where it's competitive," Marley
says, adding, however, that Turkish mills ultimately may be opposed to using larger proportions of Chinese billet if it means they no longer need to melt scrap.
Baltic region scrap also could be at risk during the winter, Marley
says, if freezing conditions make routes unnavigable.
Turkish mills actively have purchased scrap from U.S. exporters since the late 1990s, he
says, with the introduction of export restrictions from Russia.
Since then, Marley
adds, Turkish purchases have increased steadily from Western and Eastern Europe and from the U.S.
says these three regions each have accounted for one-third of Turkey's imports, depending on the price and the strength of the U.S. dollar.
says the use of more Chinese billet as a feedstock in the last year or so has changed that picture, perhaps creating four equal suppliers of raw material to Turkey instead of three.
While the strength of the U.S. dollar may be a factor in Turkey's choice of supplier, Marley
says it's difficult to know for sure how much of an influence that has been.
When the U.S. dollar is strong, Marley
says, exporters in the U.K. and Western Europe are more likely to offer discounts where they can.
says European suppliers can undersell U.S. shippers when they have a comparative advantage in terms of currency.
adds, "how much it affects things is tough to gauge."
HIGHER SALES IN 2015
While U.S. shippers posted slight increases in the amount of ferrous scrap exported to Turkey for the first eight months of 2015 compared with the same period from 2014, Marley
says exports have been trending downward for some time.
Figures from the USGS indicate that in 2012 the U.S. exported 6.4 million metric tons of ferrous scrap to Turkey.
Since then, the level has dropped, and in 2014 the U.S. exported 3.6 million metric tons of ferrous scrap to Turkey.
As of the first eight months of 2015, the U.S. had exported 2.5 million metric tons of ferrous scrap to Turkey.
Even so, Marley
says U.S. shippers have not had to discount their sales to Turkey and have been able to buy material at prices that still can yield a profit.
"Demand is so weak that they've been able to buy material cheap enough," he
says of U.S. shippers.
For example, Marley
says some exporters recently offered to by scrap locally for $115 per ton, selling to Turkish consumers at $175.
After shipping costs were factored in, the dealer's margin was around $25, he
"That's healthier than it had been in some cases in the not-too-distant past, when they were selling at a loss."
also cites instances where exporters made commitments to ship cargo and then did not have the material.
says between the lower amounts offered to closer, local dealers and the higher per ton amounts offered to dealers as far away as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, he
believes East Coast exporters have managed to make modest margins recently.
feels demand for U.S. scrap from Turkish mills going into 2016 looks good for a few major reasons.
"It's a growing and developing economy, but it's also a key export producer and revenue producer.
A lot of steel is exported to other Middle East countries," he
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