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Flat Product Steel Prices Stable in the Nordic Region

Hot rolled coil consumption is steady, in Denmark. Regional mills sought price increases, this month, but buyers resisted, according to the latest edition of MEPS European Steel Review Supplement. In Sweden, while demand from the building sector declined, a little, the overall economy is strong. This is reflected in healthy steel sales volumes. Purchase tonnages are stable, at a high level, in Finland. In Norway, purchasing activity is brisk but is not predicted to increase significantly.

The plate market, in Denmark, is a little subdued but a pickup is predicted, in the near term. European mills continue to push for price increases. However, end-users believe that transaction values are too high and, consequently, stockists are reluctant to agree to the producers’ proposals. Third country import offers are rising. In Sweden, contract prices are up, for quarter two, but the trend in spot values has levelled out. Industrial consumption is healthy. Plate demand is good, in Finland. Selling values are at a high level but did not increase, this month. Producers’ delivery lead times are extending, in Norway. Demand, from machinery manufacturers and the offshore energy sector, is growing.

Buyers, in Denmark, are finding the availability of cold rolled coils, from EU mills, limited. They are, therefore, purchasing more from third country suppliers. The requirement from the manufacturing sector is strong, in Sweden. Sales volumes and transaction values are high. The Swedish currency continues to weaken. Cold rolled coil consumption is steady, at a satisfactory level, in Finland. Prices, are unchanged, in April. Demand is fair, in Norway. However, customers are buying only for their immediate needs, as they expect prices to decline, soon.

In Denmark, the coated coil market remains strong and supply is still restricted. This will begin to ease when ArcelorMittal restarts its galvanising line, in Belgium. For now, prices for thin gauge material are rising but those for MEPS’ benchmark products are unchanged. In Sweden, carmaking activity is very strong and demand from the industrial sectors, generally, is more than satisfactory. Finnish suppliers continue to report good sales to the auto supply chains in neighbouring Sweden and Germany.

Source: European Steel Review Supplement – April 2018 Edition

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The MEPS Global Steel Price Reaches Three-Year High

According to the September edition of MEPS International Steel Review, steel prices around the world have been on an upward trend since July. The company’s global all products steel price is at its highest level since September 2014.

Steelmakers announced a series of price increases, during the third quarter. Asian and European steel buyers appeared to offer little resistance to the mills’ pricing initiatives, due to a shortage of competitively priced third country imports, notably those from China.

In the absence of low-cost alternatives, Far East and European steel manufacturers took the opportunity to raise prices, in an attempt to recoup their escalating raw material outlay. In contrast, North American producers had limited success, in lifting selling figures, despite the uptrend in international prices. In recent years, a rise in North American selling figures prompted subsequent price increases in other parts of the world.

The MEPS world average steel selling figure is forecast to decrease, marginally, in the final quarter of 2017. An improved pricing environment in Europe is expected to be more than offset by weaker conditions in North America and China.

End-user demand, traditionally, declines during the fourth trimester. Distributors tend to draw down their stock levels for the year-end. These factors are likely to exert negative pressure on transaction values.

Steelmaking raw material costs have declined, in recent weeks. However, mill outlay on consumables, such as electrodes and refractories, has surged recently. This is likely to minimise the downward movement in steel selling figures, in the coming months.

Source: MEPS – International Steel Review – September 2017 Edition


The negative price sentiment, noted last month, for sales of hot and cold rolled coil, was more pronounced, in May, in both the north and south of Europe. The upward trend for hot dipped galvanised coil values has stalled and weakness is evident in a number of countries. Spot business slowed amidst a reluctance to commit to forward transactions. Stocks in the supply chain are high. Quantities of material, ordered at the end of 2016/early 2017, in advance of price hikes, are now arriving at the ports or at customers’ warehouses. Moreover, recent limitations on domestic supply eased, as European mills caught up with order backlogs. Producers in third countries that are currently unaffected by EC antidumping measures, are making competitive offers to European customers. The recent strengthening of the euro against the US dollar also made overseas offers more attractive.

Underlying steel consumption is robust, in Germany, due to the healthy economic situation. However, recent supply tightness has eased considerably, especially for hot and cold rolled coil. Standard grades and sizes are on offer, at attractive prices, from sources such as India, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Russia. Service centre stocks are bloated. The upward price momentum reversed, in May.

A general downward adjustment was noted, in France. End-user activity, which fell in April, compared with March, was only moderate. May demand is expected to be slow, with several national holidays and the uncertainty brought about by the election. Decoilers are carrying relatively large inventories.

In general, Italian demand is stagnant and the market is fragile. The only sectors performing well are auto and mechanical engineering. As service centre stocks are high, buyers are in no hurry to re-order. Their sales are sluggish, as end-users await price developments. Resale values have fallen, resulting in poor profit margins. Ex-works strip mill product figures are under pressure due to the availability of competitively priced Indian, Turkish, Egyptian and Malaysian offers.

The UK manufacturing industry continues to perform strongly. Distributors report that end-users are busy. However, third trimester business was transacted at reduced prices. Third country import offers, from a variety of sources, are significantly cheaper than their domestic counterparts. Deals have been concluded for September arrival. In addition, inventory levels throughout the supply chain remain high, including material ordered from mainland European suppliers that is building up at the docks. Service centre sales are still healthy but profit margins are under pressure.

Domestic basis figures have reached their peak in Belgium, with negative movements monitored for third quarter deliveries. Distributors’ inventories are abundant, allowing them to postpone purchases. Import possibilities are available at competitive prices but customers show little interest. We detect considerable caution as many market participants believe that further decreases are likely.

Spanish basis values are falling quite sharply, despite satisfactory levels of consumption from a growing manufacturing sector. The perception of a negative price trend led to a lack of order intake at the mills, as buyers delayed purchasing decisions. End-users are pressing distributors for price cuts. Import offers are plentiful, for September arrival, but few deals have been concluded as customers are in “wait and see” mode.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – May 2017 Issue


In Italy demand for hot rolled coil is subdued as a result of competition from very attractive third country offers. Despite disruptions to Ilva’s production, local basis numbers have declined, in June.

Hot rolled plate can be obtained within two weeks from local rerollers. Sales are slow. Overseas suppliers have cut their price offers to try and stimulate more orders.Internal overcapacity is depressing prices in the coated coil market. The performance of the vehicle manufacturers has progressed well. No recovery is envisaged in construction investment in the near term.

Very little business is being transacted in the wire rod market. Scrap costs have reduced and are placing negative pressure on steel selling figures. Meanwhile, purchasing activity is slow for rebar. The lack of building work persists. After agreeing to a scrap-related hike in May, customers have successfully negotiated a discount in June, now that the raw material is cheaper.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – June Issue


Large volumes of imports, together with collapsing oil prices, have led to cuts in domestic steel production in the US. However, these have not been sufficient to stem the continual, month-on-month, decline in flat product transaction values. Buyers are reluctant to make large purchases as figures trend downwards. Moreover, the volumes of unsold foreign material at the docks are climbing. Some of this steel is now priced above current domestic levels as local steelmakers have responded to the import threat. Activity at the local steel plants in Canada is also slow due to high volumes of imported flat products. This, together with a dropping outlay on raw materials, has forced producers to make further substantial transaction price cuts.

Overcapacity problems, dramatically declining iron ore prices and disappointing economic indicators have driven steel selling values to record lows in China. Negative sentiment is growing. Recently, the Central Bank cut the bank reserve ratio in an effort to shore up flagging economic growth. Market players are waiting to see the impact on the steel sector. The Lunar New Year Festival (February 19-24) was later than it has been in the last few years. This led to buyers postponing steel order placement for a longer pre-holiday period than usual. Dealers were under pressure to sell ahead of the vacation. In overseas markets, export volumes reached a new high in January.

Japanese sources expect annual consumption in that country, in fiscal 2015, to be at a similar level to that recorded in the previous year. Competition from overseas continues to pose problems but the depreciation of the yen against the US dollar is acting as a slight deterrent. Nevertheless, recent figures show that annual imports, in 2014, increased for the first time in three years.

Concern amongst local South Korean steelmakers is growing as low-priced Chinese products continue to flood the market. There is also internal oversupply due to the number of new production facilities that have been brought on stream in recent years. All this material continues to weigh heavily on selling values, which have undergone further negative developments this month.

In Taiwan, flat product transaction values have continued to fall. Integrated producer, CSC, had anticipated further declines when it cut official domestic list prices for March by an average of 2.3 percent, compared with the figures published for the January/February period. Global markets are very competitive at present and both the steelmakers and manufacturers of finished goods have concerns about their ability to sell overseas.

Steel consumption in Poland during 2014 returned to pre-crisis levels. However, imports continue to gain market share. This month, domestic transaction values for flat products are unchanged in euros but have slipped a little when measured in zloty terms due to the weakening currency. Buyers say that these figures are valid until the end of March, although they admit that suppliers are talking of increases.

Czech/Slovak transaction numbers have not recovered since the Christmas holidays. Although the economy is improving there are no positive signals to support an immediate rise. However, since the political problems began in Ukraine there has been less pressure from the suppliers in that country, which used to be the main import influence on the Czech steel market.

Western European flat product makers claim that they have good order books, as the devalued euro gives them an advantage when selling in US dollar denominated export markets. Nevertheless, buyers have remarked that for first quarter business, which is now virtually closed, steelmakers did not push very hard to implement their proposed €30-40 per tonne advance. It is believed that the mills will try to enforce the hike when second trimester orders are discussed.

Source: MEPS International Steel Review – February Issue


According to the latest report by MEPS, there has been no movement in German hot rolled coil basis prices. In general, steelmakers still have capacity available for the fourth quarter. Pipemakers report that their business is not improving. Order quantities are reasonable but profit margins are lacking due to world-wide competition. Distributors are trying to reduce hot rolled coil stocks for the year-end. We hear that some service centres have already finalised their January business at a rollover price from the fourth quarter.

Recent statistics show that inventories of hot rolled plate at stockists are growing and sales volumes have fallen. The general economic outlook is less optimistic than of late, partly due to the Ukrainian problem, causing investors to hold back. Commodity plate values are unchanged from those reported in October.

Cold rolled coil domestic suppliers have cut their final quarter offers. There has been no revival in demand since the summer vacation and mill order books are lean. Local auto manufacturers have experienced a sharp drop in sales to Russia but premium car exports to other countries are holding up. Construction-related sales of hot dipped galvanised coil are static. Basis numbers in the general market have not recovered due to oversupply.

Domestic mills have maintained low carbon wire rod prices this month, after conceding a small discount in October. There is little activity in the recoil market, where values are, again, unchanged, despite negative pressure from declining scrap costs.

Sales volumes of structural sections are poor, where there is strong competition for the little business that is available. Nevertheless, suppliers have held on to prices during recent negotiations, after trimming them last month.

Rebar buyers have successfully pushed for lower prices as scrap costs drop further. The market is subdued. Merchant bar steelmakers have failed to resist customers’ calls for basis price cuts, for the second consecutive month. Purchasing activity remains cautious as buyers fear further downward developments. There has been no recovery in business levels.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – November Issue