New Delhi, February 14

Steel prices have witnessed a 5 per cent rise, sequentially, in the second week of February, with the price of bench-mark hot rolled coils (HRCs) being at around ₹59,700 per tonne. Prices have been increased by ₹2,900 over the last one month.

The February price hikes came, after two similar ones were initiated in January, following a pick up in export orders and queries across markets such as Europe, UAE and Vietnam; better domestic demand because of restocking; and higher raw material prices. Imported steel prices too have moved up making them unviable.

According to Jayant Acharya, Deputy Managing Director, JSW Steel, the country’s largest steel producer by volume, things are looking up on the pricing side. “You are seeing the prices increase from January 1 in some of the products from maybe mid-January as well. You will see this probably play out in this quarter which is seasonally a better quarter,” he said during the post earnings call.

Raw material price rise

Prices of steel-making raw materials like iron ore and coking coal have been showing an uptrend while NMDC hiked iron ore prices by up to ₹500/tonne. Price of lump ores were raised by ₹300/tonne and fines by ₹500/tonne, effective January 28.

Weekly average prices of imported hard coking coal (premium HCC, Australian origin) stood at $340/tonne for the January 23–28 week, as per a report by research firm, SteelMint.

“In the last few weeks, we have seen the international prices move up. On a dollar basis, I think China moved up by about $100 (per tonnes). We have seen European CFR also move up in the range of $140-plus. And we see reflection of that in India,” Acharya said.

Improved export demand

Trade sources told businessline that export offers have seen an uptick too. In January, although India was a net importer, the difference between exports and imports was the lowest so far. Exports in January improved 33 per cent over December to 0.59 million tonnes (mt).

According to a SteelMint report, Indian offers to Europe rose by $20/tonnes; while the HRC offers to Vietnam rose by $25-30/tonne to around $680-685/tonnes CFR(cost and freight) against $650-660/tonnes seen prior to the holidays.

Offers to the UAE were up by $35-40/tonne to $720/tonne compared to the last quoted price of $680-685/tonne.

According to TV Narendran, MD and CEO, Tata Steel, Indian steel prices are expected to move higher “based on improved expectations about the Chinese demand and the sustained government spending on infrastructure in India”.

“The raw material costs are likely to remain range-bound. And the fourth quarter is also seasonally the stronger quarter in terms of deliveries and we are looking to leverage the momentum,” he said.