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Home > MEPS Steel News - 19.06.2013


EU steel prices hit a 39 month low in June. MEPS believes that the low point of this cycle will occur over the next few months. Price cutting has failed to lift selling volumes. Extended plant closures are anticipated over the summer holiday.

Government austerity measures in most EU countries are adversely affecting construction and manufacturing, with steel consumption suffering as a result. Consequently, demand from industrial sectors in Europe is not sufficient to support today's output. Capacity reductions are necessary to restore the supply/demand balance. However, steelmakers do not seem ready to take the plunge, as yet. Unless output does fall, customers envisage further price decreases during the summer, when demand will decline even more due to the seasonal holidays in Europe and Ramadan in the Middle and Far East. Moreover, diminishing raw material costs are not supporting steel prices.

The German market is weak with too few orders. Despite efforts by the mills to stabilise basis values, there is downward pressure and some buyers anticipate another decrease of €10/15 per tonne when third quarter negotiations get underway. Both service centres and end-users are keeping inventories low. There is a great deal of very tough competition in the distribution sector in some parts of the country as they try to offload stock. This has led to a squeeze on resale profit margins.

The French market remains very quiet. End-users continue to have light order books and there is no evidence that this will change soon. As a result, there are few purchases from the service centres, which are reluctant to rebuild stocks. Mills are eager to stop prices from decreasing but there is a lot of pressure from the distributor side and basis values have come down again in June.

The market in Italy is depressed with no recovery expected in the near term. Inventories are being kept at minimum levels because consumption is so weak. All buyers, both at service centres and end-users, are extremely cautious and just purchasing enough material to survive. They are keeping any deals as small as possible. Consequently, traders are finding business opportunities difficult because they are required to order large tonnages from overseas sources.

In the UK, inventories are low at all customers. Third country material is available from traders' stocks but very little new business is being booked as the market is already oversupplied. There is still tremendous competition between distributors for orders, resulting in low resale values.

Demand is extremely low in Spain, especially from the distribution sector. European mills have tried desperately to hold on to prices but have finally conceded further decreases, although very little business is being conducted, even at the reduced figures. Resale values are no longer profitable according to a number of distributors.

MEPS - European Steel Review

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