As most market participants had expected, coke producers in North and East China have again notified their customers that they intend to raise coke prices by another Yuan 50/tonne ($7.6/t), the same margin of increase the makers had demanded – and received – on previous six occasions since mid-August. Yet again, the coke makers are leveraging the improvement in steel-market sentiment and production against tight coke supplies, Mysteel Global notes.
For example, on Wednesday a large-sized independent coking plant in North China’s Hebei announced it was adding Yuan 50/t on all the company’s merchant coke sales, effective November 11. With the adjustment, its dry-quenching coke will sell for Yuan 2,350/t EXW and including the 13% VAT, according to a company source. The same day, the same adjustments were announced by coke makers in North China’s Shanxi and East China’s Shandong provinces, just one week after winning the previous increase.
As of November 10, Mysteel’s national composite coke price had increased by Yuan 42.4/t on week to Yuan 2,062.8/t including the 13% VAT, refreshing the high since June 20 last year. Also on Tuesday, Mysteel’s average price for HRB400 20mm dia rebar had gained Yuan 220/t on week to an 11-month high of Yuan 4,119/t including the 13% VAT. If the latest coke-price hike is accepted by steel mills, domestic coke prices will be Yuan 350/t higher than they were in mid-August.
“We’ve noted a moderate decline of coke consumption – as some mills have started maintenance work after entering the winter season – while the demand in general has remained at a high level,” a Beijing-based analyst commented. “However, Shanxi’s regional supply has decreased markedly as a consequence of the capacity elimination scheme now underway in the province,” he added, anticipating that the steel mills would unwillingly agree.
“I think the core driver behind the climbing coke prices is the robust steel demand, which is encouraging steel mills to keep operating at a high level,” commented an analyst in Shanxi. “Despite the continuing thin margins they’re winning on finished steel, the mills’ steel product sales volumes were high,” he added.
Last week, the total volume of construction steel including rebar, wire rod and bar-in-coil traded on spot among the 237 traders surveyed daily by Mysteel averaged above 250,000 tonnes/day, or a new high since October, according to survey data. On November 5, the blast furnace capacity utilization rate of the 247 Chinese steelmakers in Mysteel’s sample had plateaued at a very high 92.3%, Mysteel’s data showed.
Source: Sean Xie & Russ McCulloch, Mysteel.com