China’s Baosteel cuts Q4 prices as demand weakens

China’s Baoshan Iron and Steel has cut its fourth-quarter sales prices for cold-rolled steel products, the first cut in a year, as the demand outlook weakens in China’s auto and home appliance sectors.

Baosteel, the listed unit of China’s largest steel mill, lowered cold-rolled steel product prices by 300 yuan from the third quarter, while keeping its hot-rolled steel product prices unchanged, trade sources said on Monday.

An official in the office of Baosteel’s board had no comment, while a senior Baosteel official told Reuters on Friday that the company may not publish uniform steel product prices for the fourth quarter. The company did not announce prices for the third quarter.
The decision to keep hot-rolled prices unchanged reflected high global steel prices relative to China’s and expectations of firm demand worldwide in the fourth quarter, analysts said.

“Baosteel’s pricing is within the market’s expectations. We have already seen weak demand for cold-rolled coil due to a slowdown in the auto and home appliance industries,” one trader said.

The price for cold-rolled steel, excluding value-added tax, is 6,496 yuan ($949.30) per tonne for September, while the price for hot-rolled steel is 5,742 yuan, traders said, citing offers from the company.

India steel may edge up but analysts advice sell

Indian mild steel ingot futures on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange are likely to trade sideways with a positive bias this week after markets fell nearly 10 percent last week, analysts said.

But most analysts have suggested selling at current levels on expectations steel companies would refrain from raising prices and curtail exports to boost supplies in the local market.

“The government does not directly control steel prices but it looks like it has managed to convince steel makers not to raise prices this month,” an analyst in Motilal Oswal Commodities Broker Pvt Ltd, said.

Prices may edge up a little this week but in the medium term the market looks bearish and anyone holding long position may exit at current levels, Prakash Prabhu, Ventura Commodities Pvt Ltd, said. On July 31, India’s steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan said he had asked steelmakers not to increase steel prices in the ‘national interest’.

India is battling 13-year high inflation and steel prices are a major contributor.

Steel firms were expected to raise prices when a three-month moratorium on price increases ended last week, but chose to hold price, the steel secretary said last week.

There can be minor rise in prices but in the medium term the market should ease, the Bonanza Commodity analyst said.

Mild steel ingot futures <0#NST:> on NCDEX is the most traded product in the ferrous metal category in India.

Official data showed India’s steel consumption rose 10.7 percent in 20O7/08, while output growth was slower at 5.1 percent and the gap was met through 7.18 million tonnes of imports

Bhilai Steel Plant in last-lap suspense over Rowghat

Bhilai Steel Plant, the most profitable unit of the Steel Authority of India Ltd, faces a tense fortnight before it will know whether it can dig for iron ore at Rowghat, its only chance of survival even as it plans to expand steelmaking capacity to 7.5 million tonne a year from 4.2m tonne at present.

With the Supreme Court clearing the mining plans of Posco and Sterlite last Friday, following the green signal of a central empowered committee handling such cases, it is now Bhilai Steel’s turn at Friday hearings. This Friday being a holiday, Bhilai’s case is expected to be heard on August 22. Raghavachari Ramaraju, managing director of the Chhattisgarh-based plant, said he is hopeful about Rowghat. The plant’s current mines at Dalli Rajhara, 85km away, will be exhausted in four or five years.

“We expect that, with Posco’s and Sterlite’s case having been cleared by the Supreme Court…Ours will be coming up next and get the clearance,” said Ramaraju, who has been with Bhilai since joining it in 1972 as a graduate engineer. Rowghat, 180 km from Bhilai, has around 500 million tonne iron ore, which will last the plant 35-40 years at its expanded capacity.

“Dalli Rajhara is depleting fast and we are trying to stretch it to the maximum, but it won’t last us more than another four and a half years maximum,” he said. Bhilai Steel was set up in the middle of nowhere only because of the iron ore reserves, and its location makes imports or even supplies from other SAIL mines uneconomical. It gets Dalli Rajhara ore at Rs 600-650 per tonne, and imports will cost ten times more. “We can’t afford to buy from anywhere else, and at the same time there is no source which can give me the ore,” he said, pointing out that the NMDC Ltd mines nearby are fully booked. “That is precisely the point we are stressing, that an established unit will not have any linkages,” he said. He said, SAIL’s own raw materials division is already finding it difficult to feed the existing plants.

Bhilai is the only SAIL plant that has its own iron ore mines, apart from ISP, the recently acquired Indian Iron & Steel Plant.


India steel firms keen to raise prices, govt watching

Indian steel firms may seek to raise prices when a self-imposed moratorium ends early next month, but the government is likely to oppose any hefty, inflation-fuelling increase.

Tata Steel’s Managing Director B. Muthuraman said on Wednesday Indian steel prices were ruling 15,000-20,000 rupees ($350-$450) a tonne below global rates at a time when rising input costs and freight rates were denting firms’ margins.

“There is every justification for increasing prices because input prices have gone up,” Muthuraman told reporters at an industry conference. He added the steel industry found itself in an “unnatural situation” which could hurt expansion plans.

In May, steel companies such as state-run Steel Authority of India (SAIL.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), Tata Steel (TISC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), JSW Steel (JSTL.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) and others promised to hold prices for three months to help the government cool prices amid fast-rising inflation.

SAIL will review prices after the three-month period expires, its chairman, S.K. Roongta, said on Wednesday.

Despite the price pledge by larger steel firms, data from an official body, the Joint Plant Committee, showed many product prices had risen by about 9 percent since mid-May.

Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said smaller firms and middle men were to blame. “We won’t want steel producers to face losses because the steel industry is at its peak, but we will also safeguard consumer interest,” Paswan told reporters, calling on firms to increase production.

He added that if firms hike prices in the near term, the government would be watching.

“If the media asks me why steel firms have increased prices, I will say raw material prices have gone up.

“But if they again ask me why steel firms have raised prices by 5 percent when (input) costs have gone up by just 2 percent, then you will have to answer,” the minister said, pointing towards steel industry representives.

R.S. Pandey, the top official in the steel ministry, said the government would consider taking steps to cool steel prices as long as they were contributing to high inflation.

Shares in Tata Steel reversed early gains to close 3.3 percent down at 625.70 rupees, while SAIL lost 3.9 percent to 127.20 rupees in a Mumbai market that ended down 0.8 percent.


Indian steel firms not to raise prices – govt

Indian steel firms have agreed to hold prices at current levels, Steel Secretary Pramod Rastogi told a business conference on Friday, giving a boost to government efforts to curb inflation at a 13-year high.

Firms in the world’s fifth-largest steel producing nation have been battling soaring costs of key inputs like iron ore and coal, but have been holding prices since May to help rein in double-digit inflation, which crossed 12 percent in late July.

“The government had initiated a number of fiscal measures to check prices and steel companies had agreed to hold prices and restrain exports. They have now agreed to hold prices further,” Rastogi said.

Officials of Tata Steel Ltd (TISC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL.BO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), JSW Steel Ltd (JSTL.BO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Ispat Industries Ltd (ISPT.BO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Thursday they would hold prices in August, even as the self-imposed moratorium ended.

But some company officials said they would review the situation next month. (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy and Mayank Bhardwaj, Editing by Mark Williams)


what is Hardening & Tempering?

Hardening and Tempering is a thermal process that strengthens steel through a controlled heating and cooling process.

This process will result in improved mechanical properties and give a tougher more durable product. The hardening process involves heating the steel to above the critical temperature for the given grade and then rapidly cooling. Whilst this process achieves the highest mechanical stengths and hardness’s, steel in this condition is extremely brittle and therefore requires further treatment in the form of tempering. This consists of reheating the steel to a lower temperature and holding the steel at the given temperature for a given period of time. As with traditional annealing (used to soften steels) this process is conducted in an inert atmosphere to avoid oxidation.

The exact temperature and processing times vary with given grades of steel and the process is very specialized.

Domestic Steel Firms may not raise prices.

The Indian government has urged the domestic steel industry not to hike prices even after the expiry of agreed three-month freeze.

The country’s steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan has asked India’s second-largest steelmaker, Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL), not to hike prices in view of the exceptional situation, and said he would like the industry to cooperate as well.

The minister also said that the government wants the steel industry to prosper and is giving facilities directly and indirectly to favourably impact the cost.

Global companies have been raising steel prices, which have nearly doubled this year, amid bullish demand for the metal.

According to media reports, the Indian government is planning a price band for steel products in order to check rising inflation due to high energy and commodity prices.