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Asian hot-rolled coil prices rose Tuesday, as Chinese mills raised offers on domestic market strength, even though domestic and futures prices fell.

S&P Global Platts assessed SS400 HRC 3 mm thick at $460/mt FOB China Tuesday, up $2/mt day on day. On a CFR Southeast Asia basis, the same grade of coil was assessed at $458/mt, also up $2/mt from the previous day.

Major Chinese mills either kept offers unchanged or increased by $5/mt week on week, offering SS400 HRC 3-12 mm thick coil for February shipment at $465-$475/mt FOB China. However, spot demand was slower, with purchases only for very small quantities so far.

“Currently domestic prices remains relatively firm, and export prices lower than domestic sales prices … but the outlook is unclear,” an eastern China-based mill source said.

A few Chinese mills seemed likely to stay firm on their higher offers for February shipment until the middle of the month, in order to assess domestic market bookings and adjust export prices accordingly. The domestic Chinese HRC market was firmer compared with rebar in recent days, sources said, given weather conditions in northeastern China affecting outdoor construction.

"We want to wait and see how the market reacts to the new offer first,” a northern China-based mill source said.

Traders, in contrast, were finding it hard to book quantities, given sluggish export markets.

“Personally I would like to take some short selling orders if the difference is not so big compared to mill's offer,” an eastern China-based trader said. “If within $5/mt difference, we may consider taking it.”

In Shanghai, the spot price of Q235 5.5 mm HRC was assessed at Yuan 3,750/mt ($532.16/mt) ex-stock including value-added tax Tuesday, down Yuan 15/mt from Monday. On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the most actively traded January 2020 contract closed at Yuan 3,578/mt Tuesday, down Yuan 31/mt on the day, after rising for three consecutive days previously.

Platts assessed SAE1006 HRC at $466/mt FOB China Tuesday, up $2/mt from Monday. On a CFR Southeast Asia basis, the same grade of coil was assessed unchanged at $460/mt.

In Vietnam, the bid-ask spread remained wide, with buyers not increasing bids beyond $455/mt for January shipment. Indian-origin coil offers were heard higher at $470/mt, though some market participants questioned if such prices could be achieved.

“So besides Vietnam and China, to where can they [Indian mills] sell?” a Shanghai-based trader said. “Europe? Middle East? Price to these two markets are not fantastic actually, and cannot eat up the quantity.”

Elsewhere, there was talk of Taiwanese bookings of SAE1006 heard around $465/mt. However, this could not be confirmed.

Asia rebar prices unchanged for 5th day amid stable offers
Black Sea billet offers reach $400/mt FOB as market moves up
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