Falling raw material costs push EU steel prices lower in November – MEPS International LTD

Falling raw material costs push EU steel prices lower in November – MEPS International LTD

European flat products basis prices remain under negative pressure due to domestic oversupply, weakening raw material costs and flat demand caused by poor macro-economic conditions in several countries. Third country imports are, generally, unattractive as local offers are at similar prices, with shorter delivery lead times. However, there is a threat from Chinese steelmakers in the EU mills’ traditional export markets. Domestic producers would like to hold European basis figures steady as contract negotiations with large end-users, for the first half of 2015, are due to commence in the coming weeks.

Basis values are largely unchanged in Germany. There is very little third country import competition because the US dollar is strong. Moreover, there are few offers from Italy at present. Despite domestic steelmaker ThyssenKrupp’s production problems, there is no obvious supply tightness. Mill order intake has shrunk from non-automotive industries. Little economic growth is envisaged in 2015. Service center inventories are sufficient at present, with some companies trying to destock between now and the end of the year, putting further negative influence on mill order books.

The French market has deteriorated. Demand has slowed down, compared with last month. As a result, some basis values have slipped. On the distribution side, resale prices have fallen more significantly. Service centers, integrated with steel mills, are, reportedly, quoting very low offers. Imports remain limited due to the weakness of the euro. However, production inside Europe is plentiful enough to disrupt the market.

Italian steel consumption is static at a low level, with very little sales activity. Most end-user sectors remain weak. The small improvement noted in the first half of the year has evaporated as demand decelerated in the second quarter. Some contraction is anticipated in the final trimester. Market sentiment is poor and any optimism has completely disappeared. Producers continue to offer price incentives.

UK distributors report healthy levels of business, although a number of independent companies complain that Tata Steel’s stockholding outlets are selling quite aggressively as they try to regain market share. Service center stocks are generally well controlled. Ex-mill basis values are stable at the level reported a month ago.

The Belgian market is quiet. Over the last two weeks, we have noted some price erosion, albeit not sizeable. No major changes are anticipated by buyers because order placement will be slow as companies destock ahead of their financial year-ends. Both German and Dutch distributors are selling across the border at low prices.

Spanish market players are less optimistic than a month ago. Any hopes of a price rise for the fourth quarter have been quashed by a lack of mill order intake. Buyers are in “wait and see” mode as they watch the effect that lower raw material costs may have on steel prices. Some producers are already accepting today’s basis figures for January/February rollings.

Source: www.meps.com

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