Davis Index: Market Intelligence for the Global Metals and Recycled Materials Markets

Chinese steel exports rose to 4.4mn mt in November, up by 362,000mt or 8.9pc from October but down by 3.8pc from the prior year, according to official customs data. Improved exports could be attributed to a decline in domestic steel prices in September when most export deals for November were finalised. Export realizations were higher while domestic demand had slowed after a strong recovery. Economic recovery in most Asian countries too lifted appetite for steel globally for November shipments. 


Exports commodityUnitsNov-20Jan-Nov 2020Jan-Nov 2019% Change YoY
Steel Products10,000 Tons440.2 4,882.6 5,961.0 -18.1
Motor Vehicles & Chassis10,000 Cars12.8 95.5 113.5 -15.8
ShipsShip1,380.0 5,327.0 5,763.0 -7.6
Unwrought Aluminum & Al productsmt4,24,025.3 44,04,109.6 52,48,393.9 -16.1

In Jan-Nov period, China’s steel export dropped by 18.1pc to 48.8mn mt. In 2020, exports are expected to be around 55mn mt against 64.3mn mt in the prior year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted global steel demand and weakened export realisations. 


Chinese HRC prices remained lower than other global markets. Russian prices were up $15-20/mt while Japanese, Indian and Korean steelmakers offered the same at $30-40/mt than Chinese suppliers, which supported Chinese exports in November. HRC producers in CIS and other regions had to lift their prices in line with the increase in raw materials prices. Competitive pricing by Chinese producers has led to Chinese steel being ‘sold out’ for the rest of the year.  



Chinese steel imports dropped by 4pc to 1.85mn mt in November from October, while it jumped by 78pc from November 2019. In September 2020, steel exports were recorded highest at 2.9mn mt. Imports have dropped successively for the second month, as per data released on Dec 7.  


In Jan-Nov period, imports of finished steel rose to 18.86mn mt, up by 74.3pc from the prior year period. Strong demand in China spurred imports in a period when the rest of the world struggled with demand slump due to the virus.  


Iron ore imports fall 

Chinese iron ore imports fell to a six-month low in November. Supply from major producers like Brazil and Australia lowered amid supply tightness and trade tensions. China imported 98.15mn mt of iron ore in November, 8pc down from October, a second successive monthly drop, as arrivals reduced despite firm demand.  


Exports from the largest supplier Australia have dropped since late October. The second-largest supplier, Brazil recorded a 17.6pc drop against October while down 8.6pc from the prior year to 31.19mn mt of exports to China. Meanwhile, consumption of iron ore was strong with prices expected to maintain an uptrend. Iron ore with Fe content 62pc reached its 7-year high at $147/mt cfr China on Dec 7. In Jan-Nov, iron ore imports to China jumped by 10.9pc from the prior year to 1.073bn mt, exceeding 2019’s total exports of 1.069bn mt.


Import commodityUnitsNov-20Jan-Nov 2020Jan-Nov 2019% Change YoY
Iron ores and concentrates10,000 Tons9,815.0 1,07,335.4 96,745.2 10.9
Steel Products10,000 Tons185.4 1,885.9 1,082.1 74.3
Motor Vehicles and Chassis10,000 Cars10.7 82.1 96.5 -15.0


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