BRAZIL STEEL MARKET ROUNDUP FROM MEPS

Suppliers in Brazil have held hot rolled coil transaction numbers steady for April business, according to MEPS. However, local stockists are anxious that domestic suppliers will press for price increases in the next trading period.

Hot rolled plate traders plan to persevere with conservative procurement strategies, citing weak shipment volumes to pipe and tube fabricators. Meanwhile, cold rolled prices held relatively stable month-on-month in April.

Challenging business conditions persist in the Brazilian coated coil market. Local traders expressed concerns that their domestic suppliers will seek higher prices in May.

Structural section and merchant bar distributors contend that local products remain overpriced. They fear that foreign supply will intensify if the domestic/import price premium continues to widen.

Source: MEPS Developing Markets Steel Review – April Edition

MEPS PREDICTS RECORD GLOBAL STAINLESS STEEL OUTPUT THIS YEAR

Worldwide total crude stainless steel output in 2014 reached an all-time high figure of nearly 41.7 million tonnes. This exceeds the last peak, achieved in the previous year, by 8.3 percent. MEPS predicts that global production will grow by a further 3.4 percent, this year, to reach a new record of 43.1 million tonnes.

EU production totalled over 7.2 million tonnes, last year. This represents a 1.4 percent increase on the 2013 figure but remains 23 percent below the output recorded in 2006. It is unlikely that such a figure will be reached again, given the expansion of stainless steelmaking capacity throughout the world. Although local consumption is disappointing, at present, European producers will be boosted in the short-to-medium term by the effects of EU antidumping duties levied on cold rolled coil from China and Taiwan.

Production in the United States climbed by more than 16 percent, year-on-year, in 2014, to in excess of 2.3 million tonnes. Output will grow more moderately, this year, to reach a predicted level of 2.4 million tonnes.

Japanese stainless steelmaking also grew strongly, last year, to turn out at more than 3.3 million tonnes – an annual increase of nearly 5 percent. More moderate expansion is anticipated in 2015, to achieve a total of 3.35 million tonnes.

In the face of fierce competition in the region, output in South Korea fell to just over 2 million tonnes, in 2014, a decrease of 4.3 percent, compared with the previous year’s outturn. A modest recovery is forecast for 2015, with production increasing by around 1.5 percent.

Annual production in Taiwan rose by 2.6 percent, last year, to exceed 1.1 million tonnes. Output in 2015 is predicted to record only minimal growth, compared with the year earlier figure.

Source: MEPS – Stainless Steel Review – April Issue

FRENCH STEEL PRICE ROUNDUP FROM MEPS INTERNATIONAL LTD

In France, hot rolled coil prices decreased month-on-month, according to MEPS. Cheap imported material from Russia and China continues to create downward pressure on local selling figures.

In the French plate market, prices have gone down as demand remains flat and there is strong competition between the various suppliers. Delivery lead times have shrunk.

The domestic mills have failed to hold on to the previous month’s cold rolled coil figures. Very competitively priced Chinese material is still available.

Demand from the French vehicle industry has improved since last year, with car manufacturers increasing their output slightly. Nevertheless, steel contracts are fixed until June or even September/December. In the general market, coated steel consumption remains tepid. During recent settlements, producers have been forced to concede discounts.

Selling values for drawing rod are lower than those displayed in our March report. For the mesh quality, suppliers have been unable to resist downward price pressure during recent settlements.

Rebar basis values went down slightly, in late March/early April, but have now recovered to their previous level. Producers are asking for a small advance on the back of slightly higher scrap prices in April. A small rise, for merchant bar, was negotiated last month but was then withdrawn as suppliers, other than Beltrame, did not support the initiative.

Source: MEPS European Steel Review – April Edition

SPANISH STEEL PRICE ROUNDUP FROM MEPS INTERNATIONAL LTD

Spanish hot rolled coil steelmakers managed to hold onto last month’s selling figures in April, according to MEPS. Russian and Chinese producers are offering competitively priced imports. Moreover, there are some new quotations from Turkey.

The hot rolled plate market is quite active but, as the domestic supplier is focussing on the higher qualities, most purchases are of overseas material, mainly of Chinese origin. There are smaller quantities of Russian plate on offer. Ukrainian mills are trying to sell but are not competitive. Moreover, buyers are not confident that delivery promises will be kept.

Local basis numbers for cold rolled coil are unchanged despite cheap third country material being offered from Russia and China. Demand from Spanish carmakers has improved. However, attractively priced overseas quotations are keeping the lid on domestic coated coil prices.

Wire rod producers have agreed a small discount, during negotiations for supplies of low carbon material. Although sales of the mesh quality are flat, selling figures have moved back up to the February level. Prices for structural section have been maintained as steelmakers focus on export markets. Local activity is quiet at present but some large public works projects are in the process of being announced.

Rapidly climbing scrap costs in Spain have not, so far, resulted in higher rebar prices, as the domestic market is quiet. Suppliers are exporting some material to the USA as well as to North Africa. Merchant bar suppliers have hung on to the March numbers, despite subdued sales to end-users.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – April Issue

EU STEEL MARKET STEADY BUT THE IMPORT THREAT STILL EXISTS

Activity in the European market for flat products slowed a little, ahead of the Easter holidays in early April. However, many domestic mills have delivery lead times extending into the end of June or even July, thanks to improved export business on the back of a weak euro. Second quarter prices in continental Europe are generally flat at similar levels to those in the first trimester. In contrast, price erosion continues in the UK as mainland European steel suppliers take advantage of currency movements which have enabled them to offer more cheaply than in the recent past.

The German market is quiet with few developments. Suppliers have continued to push for price increases but without any real success. In certain instances, customers may have paid slightly more but, overall, basis numbers for strip mill products are flat. Buyers are not expecting rises in the third trimester as mill costs are relatively low and demand is similar to 2014. At present, some customers are experiencing delays to their deliveries because of production problems at ThyssenKrupp. This has created a temporary feeling of supply tightness in some areas. However, the situation is expected to ease at the end of this month. Service centres continue to keep stock levels down. The utilisation rate in that sector is quite low and profit margins have shrunk.

A lack of substantial demand continues to mar the French market, where activity is still weak and producers are struggling to hold on to basis numbers. Prices are being affected by rising volumes of imported material. Chinese and Indian offers have now returned to European levels, despite the decline in value of the euro. There is not enough business available to satisfy all the distributors, who are finding it impossible to improve their poor margins. Market participants do not envisage any real improvement in the coming months.

With the exception of the auto sector, flat product consumption remains low in Italy. Mechanical engineering demand is particularly depressed. However, expectations are for a slow, if fragile, economic recovery. End-users refuse to pay more, so service centre profits are lacklustre. The weak euro is helping to deter prospective importers. Ilva is back in the market with offers for cold rolled and hot dipped galvanised coil, following an extended break. However, the volumes are small in comparison with past production levels.

UK distributors continue to report healthy business activity. Their sales in March were good and this has continued into April. Steelmakers are no longer pushing for increases. In reality, mill prices have declined again due to a weak euro, which has offered advantages to mainland European suppliers and allowed them to grow their market share. Although service centre resale values have fallen in tandem with the mill figures, margins remain acceptable.

The Belgian market is relatively stable. We have noted a small number of quarterly contracts being settled slightly higher than in the first trimester but, in general, basis figures are unchanged. Demand is rather quiet. Buyers expect little, or no, change before the summer holidays. However, there are some positive signals that activity will improve later in the year as the economy revives.

Despite attempts to lift basis figures further, suppliers to the Spanish market have been unable to secure increases. Customers are only purchasing for their immediate needs, although underlying demand is stable. Substantial volumes of third country material, due to arrive in June/July, could depress selling values in the summer. After increasing their prices when the euro first plummeted, overseas suppliers have now lowered their new offers back to the original level.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – April Issue

ThyssenKrupp to sell VDM group

ThyssenKrupp is selling the VDM group to Lindsay Goldberg, represented in Europe by Lindsay Goldberg Vogel, Düsseldorf. The contract partners concluded a corresponding agreement today. The purchase price has not been disclosed. Completion of the sale is subject to the approval of the supervisory boards and the competent antitrust authorities.

On completion of the transaction, ThyssenKrupp will achieve a positive effect on net financial debt and pension obligations in the mid three-digit million euro range. The sale will also reduce the share of volatile materials businesses and thus support ThyssenKrupp on its Strategic Way Forward to becoming a diversified industrial group. The transaction will result in a book value adjustment of around € 100 million.

As part of the necessary refinancing measures at Outokumpu, all shares in VDM and AST were transferred to ThyssenKrupp at the end of February 2014. Comprehensive new business plans have been developed for VDM and AST over the past few months. ThyssenKrupp always emphasized that it did not intend to retain the two companies in the Group in the medium to long term. In Lindsay Goldberg an investor has been found who will push on with the already initiated restructuring and realignment of VDM.

Source: ThyssenKrupp

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