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NEWS UPDATES 17 February 2010

Malaysian firm sees 15-20% increase in steel prices

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Steel prices are expected to jump a further 15 percent to 20 percent after the Chinese New Year as governments in East Asia restart spending on major infrastructure-related projects and restocking activities increase, the Star Biz reported, quoting Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Masteel) managing director Datuk Seri Tai Hean Leng.

The current steel bar price in the domestic market is about 2,000 ringgit ($585) per tonne while the international market price is about $565.

He said the steel industry was heading for a recovery with an average capacity utilisation of about 70 percent to 75 percent due to an improvement in steel demand from East Asia.

The higher cost of raw materials like iron ore and scrap metal, given the extreme cold winter, could also result in steel prices rising in the coming months.

“Many industry players are expecting an increase in restocking activities as consumers (steel buyers) prepare for strong construction demand by end-February,” Tai told StarBiz.

Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are expected to spend a total of about 102 billion ringgit on infrastructure projects, financed by their economic stimulus packages.

He also expects locally-made steel billets to command higher prices in the regional markets as the local products were of a higher grade compared with those from China.

“The Middle East, Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh will also be favourable export markets for local billets, should these economies continue to improve,” he said.

According to Tai, Masteel was looking forward to boosting the sale of its premium steel products which conform to the Australian and New Zealand standards.



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