India’s steel mills began FY24 on a positive note with exports increasing 13 per cent in April as compared to the same month last year while there was a 5 per cent rise in exports sequentially (April vs March).

Finished steel exports in April stood at 0.855 million tonnes (mt), as per provisional numbers available with Steel Ministry. As against this, exports in the year-ago period (April 2022) was 0.761 mt. In March, exports were 0.812 mt.

Global markets are still stressed with respect to export offers and remain volatile, steel mill officials say.

Imports Up

However, imports (shipments coming into the country) for the month saw a sharp spike. Imports were up 38 per cent on a YoY basis to 0.46 mt (against 0.333 mt); while on a sequential basis, imports rose 7 per cent. Import of finished steel in March was 0.429 mt.

India was a net exporter of finished steel,” the Ministry report said.

Finished steel include non-alloyed offerings, alloyed offerings and stainless steel. It does not include semis like billets, ingots and so on.

With price of hot rolled coils dropping in India’s domestic market and there being a fall in export prices for May first week deliveries – in the range of 2-4 per cent – the industry continues to be jittery about imports.

According to Ranjan Dhar, CMO, AMNS India, steel prices experienced a correction due to fluctuations in the market dynamics, with global factors particularly emerging from China, playing a significant role. “This is a typical price swing in the industry, and there are no significant structural changes in the market. Demand in China is expected to increase in Q2 and Q3 of the calendar year,” he told businessline.

The World Steel Association predicts strong global demand for steel this year, with growth estimated at 2.3 per cent on the domestic front, the demand outlook remains robust with about a 7 per cent growth projection.

“The market also has low stock levels, which could contribute to a potential V-shaped price recovery in the near future,” Dhar said.

April trends

As per the Ministry report, non alloyed steel exports in April was 0.767 mt, up 10 per cent-odd YoY and 2 per cent sequentially. On the other hand, non alloyed and stainless steel exports increased 29 per cent (considering a low base effect) YoY and 44 per cent up since March 2023.

Alloyed steel continue to account for bulk of exports – nearly 90 per cent of total.

On the other hand, import of non-alloyed steel saw a 46 per cent jump YoY to 0.293 mt. Sequentially, segment imports remained almost flat. In case of non-alloyed and stainless steel import, there was 27 per cent rise YoY and 21 per cent rise month-on-month (over March) to 0.167 mt.