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Home > MEPS Steel News - 15.12.2014


According to MEPS International Ltd, European demand for flat products remains lacklustre as many customers try to minimise their inventories before the close of the financial year. Although the mills are trying to resist calls for lower basis numbers, in the majority of cases they have failed. Prices have continued to fall, following the trend in raw materials. Offers from Asia are not particularly competitive at present but supply from domestic sources is plentiful.

In Germany, quarterly contracts for period one 2015 have not been finalised completely. Some business has already been concluded for January at prices below those published in the November issue of MEPS European Steel Review. The downward pressure is not from third country offers but from cheaper raw materials. Demand is stable at an annual level comparable to 2014. A number of service centres are selling very cheaply in order to reduce their stocks for their financial year-end.

Activity remains at a subdued level in France. End-users are waiting until the last minute to order steel, while demand from stockholders is weak. Mills have short delivery lead times, which allow distributors to keep inventories low. Activity derived from the auto sector has been slightly better in 2014 than the previous year but still remains quite modest. The rest of industry has already agreed a discount for December deliveries. Some buyers foresee the possibility of further slight erosion for the first trimester. Purchases will only be finalised just before the holidays.

There is no good news for sellers in the Italian steel sector, where basis numbers are constantly slipping. Buyers claim that reductions in raw material costs are now having a very big influence on steel prices. Moreover, demand is described as ‘dead’, with December being considerably quieter than is seasonally normal. Market expectations are for further price decreases in 2015, so customers are reluctant to commit to forward orders.

UK service centres are enjoying healthy levels of business, although growth has now slowed a little, ahead of the vacation. Demand is still good and their margins are better than a year ago. There is minimal speculative purchasing and, in general, inventories are in balance. There are stocks at the ports but most of the material is pre-sold.

Low demand, together with shrinking raw material costs, has led to declining prices in Belgium. Distributors from the Netherlands and Germany are selling cheaply across the border, threatening resale values. Service centres are desperate to empty their stocks before the financial year finishes at the end of December.

Basis figures continue to tumble in Spain, where real consumption is stable but buyers are delaying their purchases as they watch the constant cuts in the steelmakers’ outlay on raw materials. They anticipate lower steel prices in the future.

MEPS - European Steel Review - December Issue

Also See: MEPS - EU Steel Prices Online



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