STEEL PRICES RISE IN NORTH AMERICA BUT ARE WEAKER IN OTHER REGIONS
Following another round of price hike announcements, US
flat product ex-mill transaction values have moved up. However, resale prices
are proving more difficult to lift. Overseas producers, seeing the positive
price momentum in the US, are becoming increasingly active in the marketplace.
Domestic availability is adequate. Inventories throughout the supply chain are
Producers are talking of recovery in Canada’s flat products sector. They have
adopted a firm policy when it comes to applying the proposed price rises.
Transaction figures are well above this year's previous peak in September. Many
companies have been forced to place orders at the inflated levels because their
inventories were so low. However, service centres report that their sales are
inconsistent and, with prices continuing to move up, they are only buying for
the short term.
Japanese domestic demand is healthy and growing, boosted by reconstruction
activity and strong economic policies. Stock levels are now considered to be
reasonable. However, overseas sales continue to weaken as demand in key Asian
export markets falls away and Chinese supply pressure persists.
In South Korea, both domestic and overseas demand is lacklustre. The local mills
are actively looking for an opportunity to boost flat products selling values.
However, the current weakness is expected to continue until the end of the year.
Polish strip mill product prices are unchanged in euros but marginally lower in
the local currency due to exchange rate fluctuations. Buyers envisage some small
reductions in December. Although there is a great deal of post-election
infighting in the Czech Republic, the overall consensus appears to be that the
economic situation has reached the bottom and, with the notable exception of
construction, business is slowly starting to recover. However, this more
positive scenario has yet to benefit steel demand. Transaction values are
expected to remain unchanged for the remainder of 2013.
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