India's October finished steel exports surged by 60pc to 950,000t from a year ago, according to initial estimates by the Indian steel ministry.
Year-to-date exports have risen by 27.7pc to 4.88mn t for April-October from the same period in 2018. India's fiscal year runs from 1 April.
A surge in hot-rolled coil (HRC) exports is driving much of the growth.
Indian mills are competing aggressively with Asian counterparts, especially into Vietnam, which has emerged as the biggest destination for Indian HRC in recent months.
That trend is borne out in breakout data current through September. Its steel exports to Vietnam jumped to 1.04mn t in April-September from a low base of 293,000t in same period last year. HRC makes up the greatest share of total exports in April-September, at 2.28mn t, up by 68pc on the year.
About 500,000t of HRC exports were booked in October, and 400,000t are likely to be booked in November, a Mumbai export agent estimated. Indian mills have raised offers this month, lifting sentiment in seaborne HRC markets.
"Indian mills are now turning speculative and raising their offers to Vietnam," he said. Mills have raised offers to $430-435/t cfr basis, but bids are likely to be only about $425/t levels.
Driving some of the demand is Indian mills' ability to deliver within one month of booking orders, faster than other suppliers. Indian HRC is also finding demand from buyers in Taiwan, the Middle East and Europe. India-based participants expect offers to be about $415/t fob Mumbai this month.
Indian mills, enduring low domestic demand, are finding better prices in export markets, a Mumbai steel trading firm said. India's domestic steel consumption in October rose by 0.2pc to 8.39mn t, and in April-October it rose by 4.2pc to 59.23mn t.
A prolonged monsoon from June-October and tightening of bank credit resulted in lower consumer spending, a Mumbai mill marketing manager said. Domestic demand from steel-buying sectors such as automotive, consumer durables, construction and real estate remained subdued throughout the monsoon months, resulting in falling prices.
On 1 November,