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Home > MEPS Steel News - 23.03.2015

MODEST DEMAND AND LOW INPUT COSTS KEEP EU STEEL PRICES IN CHECK

Slow purchasing activity over the last month has not supported the European mills’ desire to lift basis values for flat products. However, domestic steelmakers have reasonably good order books, thanks to improved export business on the back of a weak euro. Moreover, Ilva has been out of the market. Furthermore, a number of mills have been carrying out planned maintenance and/or have had production problems. All these factors led to a tightening of supply.

Third country offers from the Far East, which have been largely ignored because of their long delivery lead times, are still competitively priced, despite the devaluation of the euro against the US dollar. As European mill lead times extend, a number of buyers, especially in Southern Europe, are becoming more interested in imports. Russian material is also popular, given the fall in value of the rouble.

German customers report that the larger steelmakers are still talking of a €10 per tonne advance for second quarter business but buyers expect to pay comparable prices to those in period one. Offers from China are at similar levels to European ones. Demand from end-users is similar to that in 2014.

Activity remains generally weak in the French market, with end-users’ order books shrinking marginally this month. Distributors are competing against each other in a price war. The mills do not seem able to lift their strip product values. The disruption in deliveries, at the beginning of last month, caused by the situation at Ilva, led to a very limited price correction, if any.

Despite a cut in volumes from domestic steelmaker, Ilva, Italian prices have failed to recover. The market, generally, is dull. Demand is improving, albeit only slightly and from a low point. There is still uncertainty surrounding the Ilva situation but normal activity is slowly resuming. There is stronger pressure from imports, especially Chinese and Russian material. Competition in the distribution sector is severe.

In the UK, service centres were busy in February and March started well. Their profit margins are down a little because of falling mill prices. The tumble is almost entirely due to currency movements, which have enabled mainland European producers to offer more cheaply in the UK. Domestic mills have not yet declared their targets for May/June. Chinese suppliers are offering at 20/30 per tonne below current local values, for August arrival. Stocks of foreign material at the ports have gone down.

The Belgian market is relatively stable with little movement in either prices or demand. The mills are still claiming an increase of €10/15 per tonne. In some instances they have succeeded but, generally, basis numbers remain unchanged. While raw material costs remain low, they have no major reason to justify a rise. The euro is weak, helping to keep most third country imports at bay, for now, but the rouble is even weaker, encouraging a great many cheap offers from Russian suppliers. Competition in the distribution sector is fierce.

Spanish customers have agreed to pay slightly more for some strip mill products during recent negotiations as delivery lead times lengthen. In general, demand is at a similar level to that in late 2014, or even a little better. However, resale prices remain under extreme negative pressure.




Source:
MEPS - European Steel Review - March Issue

Also See: MEPS - EU Steel Prices Online

 

 

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