Raw Material Prices

CRU: Pig iron prices rise on tightened market balance

Written by Brett Reed

Pig iron prices have been trending higher in all key markets besides Europe. Limited exports from Brazil and Ukraine are contributing to higher prices in the USA, though soft demand cushioned a sharp price upswing.

In the US, pig iron prices increased by $15 per metric ton (mt) m/m to $485/mt CFR NOLA. Buying activity remained soft as mills started preparations for scheduled summer maintenance. Meanwhile, Brazilian suppliers raised their export offer prices by $5/mt m/m to $480/mt and $450/mt FOB from Northern and Southern markets, respectively. Brazilian pig iron producers have reduced output in recent months while a depreciating local currency supported a 25% m/m rise in domestic Brazilian pig iron prices to BRL2,000/mt, thereby reducing the widening gap with export sales realization. Additionally, tightened market balance in other markets supported higher export prices to the US market. Market participants report that Brazilian producers have been maintaining pig iron export prices at an elevated premium to scrap prices as input costs remain high.

In Europe, pig iron import prices were unchanged m/m at $410/mt CFR Italy, while HBI import prices decreased by $20/mt m/m to $360/mt CFR Italy. The market balance remained loose for HBI despite reduced arrivals from Libya, as buyers preferred acquiring material on an as-needed basis. Moreover, market participants report that inquiries for large volumes of HBI have been limited. It is also worth highlighting here that higher price offers for pig iron were heard for the European market outside of our assessment window but could not be verified. Market participants suggest near-term Italian appetite will dictate the extent of the rise in the region’s pig iron prices over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Russian merchant pig iron (MPI) export volumes trended higher, supported by strong demand from Italy and India. Consequently, the CIS pig iron export price increased $12/mt m/m to $407/mt FOB Black Sea. On the contrary, Ukrainian MPI export volumes trended lower due to higher domestic consumption. The country’s pig iron production growth has been limited due to energy supply constraints. Additionally, continued war action in Ukraine caused further logistical constraints.

This article was first published by CRU. To learn more about CRU’s services, visit www.crugroup.com.

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