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A leading US supplier offered containerized heavy melting scrap 80:20 at $370/mt CFR Taiwan and Taiwanese customers have bought containerized scrap at prices up to $365/mt CFR, Taiwanese and US trading sources said Friday.

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"More mills are willing to pay $365/mt CFR," said a trader who sold material at this level. "Prices lifted because the international market is too strong."

Bookings for HMS 80:20 occured this week at $360-365/mt CFR Taiwan, compared with a transaction price of $358/mt CFR Taiwan the prior week. The Platts daily assessment for US West Coast containerized HMS 80:20 moved up $3/mt on Friday to $330-335/mt FAS Port of Los Angeles.

While finished steel prices are lagging behind the increase in scrap import prices, Taiwanese traders said they expect Taiwan's domestic rebar prices to rise next week. "The rebar market is still bad because demand is still slow," a Kaohsiung-based trader said.

Mills in Taiwan have been telling the market they intend to hike domestic rebar prices by the equivalent of TWD 200-300/mt ($7-10/mt) this week. A Taipei trader said that mills are being forced to raise rebar prices because of higher-priced scrap, but it is unclear whether the mills will be able to make sufficient sales at the higher prices.

In Korea, mills are in the market to book US scrap because it is competitively priced compared with H2 grade scrap from Japan. Japanese H2 scrap was sold last week at the equivalent of nearly 390/mt CFR Korea.

US suppliers are offering bulk scrap to Korea at $395-400/mt CFR HMS 1 basis, Korean trading sources said.

"Buyers are giving bids at $393-395/mt CFR," a Seoul trader said Friday.

Some traders said they heard that a Korean mill booked a cargo in early November at $395/mt CFR, but it is unclear what the price was based on. Some said it was for HMS basis and a trader said that this was probably a composite price because the mill uses plate & structural scrap.

Bookings for HMS 1 transacted at $385-391/mt CFR Korea during the last two weeks of October. In Vietnam, the booking price for HMS settled at $388/mt CFR two weeks ago.

While traders were concerned that steel demand and prices were not able to support further increases in scrap prices, regional trading sources said they expect prices to remain firm for the rest of the year, at least.

"Much will depend on the weather, which will affect scrap collection," a trader said, noting that gains in scrap prices typically occur during the northern hemisphere winter. "But a shortage of material due to the year-end holidays could also cause a squeeze," he added.

"Mills have no choice but to pay more because there are no low-priced sources available," another trader said.

--Anna Low, and Nicholas Tolomeo,
--Edited by Jeff Barber,