LME Steel Billet Price Leaps; ArcelorMittal, Novolipetsk, Eye a Less-Sanctioned Iran

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On Tuesday, the steel billet 3-month price experienced the biggest jump this year, rising a significant 5.4 percent on the LME to $390.00 per metric ton. The steel billet cash price remained essentially flat on the LME at $365.00 per metric ton.
One of the major factors in this rise may have been that economic sanctions eased last month under a temporary accord with Iran.

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Even after seven years of international sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran still consumes more steel than France or the UK. It’s a major automaker and needs massive infrastructure for its oil and gas industry, consuming about 20 million tons a year of the metal, according to Bloomberg LP. Iran is shaping up as a hot, untapped opportunity for Western steel exporters, particularly high-grade mills.

ArcelorMittal and Russia’s OAO Novolipetsk Steel have mills in central Asia that supplied Iran before sanctions began in 2007, when it imported 12.2 million tons a year of the metal, a value of $6 billion today. Other steelmakers are quietly testing the waters.

About 45 producers sent representatives to a steel conference last month in Tehran to study export opportunities and investing in Iran’s domestic industry, Bloomberg reported.

In other markets, Chinese steel prices were mixed for the day. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price fluctuated in a range within $1 US. The price of Chinese HRC declined 1.5 percent. For the fifth day in a row, the price of Chinese coking coal remained essentially flat.

After two changeless days, the US HRC futures contract 3-month price fell 0.3 percent. The spot price of the US HRC futures contract saw little movement on Tuesday.

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