Domestic steel prices become unstable, due to weak demand and slowing export orders.

India’s domestic steel prices are still unstable due to weak purchasing, delayed international demand, a decline in export offers, and lower-than-expected demand in traders’ markets. This week, the benchmark hot-rolled coil (HRC) price was about 59,200 per tonne, a 2–3% decrease from the same time last month (mid-March).

After mid-March, there had been some cooling off in HRC price, with prices dropping to 60,000 per tonne in Mumbai. According to SteelMint data, prices had further decreased by Marchand to 59,900 per tonne. Increases announced by a few of the mills had also not been well received. The first week of April saw HRC prices at $60,200 per tonne, nearly unchanged from March, but later dropped to under $60,000.

Mid-December 2022 saw the SteelMint India HRC export index at $560/t FOB east coast, and by early February it had risen to $715/t FOB. But it was reduced to $695 per tonne freeon­board. According to a source, another significant cause is the fall in Chinese HRC export offers, which has made buyers in the international and Indian markets more cautious.

The Chinese economy, which is predicted to rise by 4%, has been exhibiting indications of recovery for the past two months as a result of an uptick in consumption and stronger infrastructure investment. However, a decline in the export order sub­index, along with a poorer outlook, a reduction in the government’s emphasis on infrastructure spending there, and a fleeting improvement in the manufacturing PMI, signal that the boost from the manufacturing sector is limited, according to a research by Motilal Oswal.

The market for the metal may be affected as China steadily transitions to a service economy, it said, adding that the strong demand for steel in countries like India, Vietnam, the US, West Asia, and Latin America will not make up for the drop in demand from China.

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