German basis values rose, in August/September, due to limitations on the amount of material available from both European and overseas producers. According to the latest edition of MEPS European Steel Review, supply remains restricted, especially for coated products, with delivery lead times out to the year-end and beyond. Service centre stocks are reducing quickly as a number of end-users, who would normally place direct business with the mill, are buying from distributors in order to access steel more quickly.
Italian service centres report supply tightness. However, their margins continue to be squeezed. For the moment, customers are reluctant to pay more. The distribution sector has too much capacity and a number of stockists are still selling quite aggressively.
In the UK, the majority of strip mill product prices advanced, this month, as continental European producers lifted basis values to offset the weaker pound sterling. Suppliers are now talking of an additional rise. Most distributors are applying the mill increases, so margins are acceptable. Stocks are low due to supply shortfalls. We detect little availability from traders.
Belgian buyers stated that the push for higher prices does not reflect any similar growth in demand, although service centre sales are reasonably good. Mill order books, for most strip mill products, are full to December, or even beyond. Quantities are very limited and there are delays on already long delivery lead times. Distributors report that the higher mill prices cannot be applied to resale values in all cases.
A perceived lack of availability led to higher basis numbers in Spain. Service centres are concerned that their customers will only partially accept the mill rise. Some buyers anticipate that the supply issues may be resolved by the first quarter 2017. Not least, because competitively-priced imports are on offer from a number of third country sources, not affected by antidumping measures.