Emerging Market Steel Producers Strive to Hold the Line on Prices

Brazilian steelmakers attempted to push through a price increase for October’s production campaign. Distributors and end-users condemned the latest initiative as “unwarranted”, considering the relatively quiet business conditions and soft economic fundamentals. Buyers are increasingly interested in purchasing third country material. Flat product suppliers are focusing on overseas sales.

Russian trading houses believe that price cuts are likely, in the short term, citing the close proximity to the end of the country’s construction season. End-users are keeping stock levels very low and only purchasing what is absolutely necessary, as a result. Export business is still slack, forcing producers to lower their export price quotations.

In the Indian steel market, sales volumes and selling figures remain subdued. Local trading houses are expected to persevere with cautious procurement strategies next month, in anticipation of weak shipments to the construction sector and other downstream industries. Third country import offers are available but buyers show little interest.

Business activity in Ukraine remains reasonable. Transaction values moved up, due to concerted efforts by the mills to cover their production costs. Nevertheless, local stockists are keeping inventories well under control. The year-end seasonal slowdown in demand is expected to begin, next month.

Procurement activity in Turkey was less vigorous, this month, than in September. Flat product selling values declined, owing to soft end-user demand, lower import quotations and decreasing raw material costs. Long product suppliers had mixed success in stemming the downward movement in prices. They supplemented poor domestic sales with increased shipments to overseas customers – particularly, in Southeast Asia.

Downstream demand for finished steel in the United Arab Emirates fell below market projections. Distributors are tightly controlling inventory levels because they expect the negative price trend to continue. Availability of foreign material at the ports is plentiful. Moreover, a pickup in shipments to the building sector is unlikely, in the short term.

Trading conditions are still lacklustre in the South African market. Service centres report that profit margins are being squeezed. With prices continuing to move up, traders are only buying what they need. The construction sector continues to suffer from a shortage of public and private investment.

Source: MEPS – Developing Markets Steel Review – October 2017 Edition