Demand for cold rolled coil from the automotive and other manufacturing sectors, in the United States, has improved according to MEPS. Delivery lead times are long and shipments from the mills are often late. This has encouraged end-users to buy from stock. The producers’ proposed basis price hike for July has been pushed back to August. Buyers may demonstrate further resistance to increases.
Despite Japan’s leading producer, NSSC, trying to raise domestic list prices for austenitic coils, market transaction values have remained unchanged, this month. In South Korea, imports from Chinese and other East Asian suppliers have increased significantly during renovation work by the local producer, Posco. The company may lose market share, in the longer term, as the quality of standard items from China has been found to be satisfactory.
Customers in Taiwan remain cautious despite the relatively stable nickel costs in recent months. Underlying demand is disappointing. The local mills have cut domestic prices for austenitic coils. Ferritic transaction values are unchanged. While Chinese producers have differing views on domestic list prices, market values for type 304 coils have fallen in the past month. Some mills are offering material at discounted figures, in an attempt to increase their cash flow. Selling values for grade 430 coils, which had been stable for several months, recorded a small reduction in mid-July.
There has been a moderate advance in austenitic coil basis figures, in Germany. Buyers in France report increased basis numbers for coil and sheet from stock as well as new production. There is not much imported steel available on the French market, at present, as there is little price differential between European and third country coils. However, there is plenty of Asian material in Italian stockholders’ inventories which, having been bought when prices were lower, is keeping current values down.
Cold rolled coil and sheet sales activity in the UK has been quite good in June and July but profit margins remain tight. Some items are in short supply. Buyers anticipate nickel costs rising during the second half of 2014. Austenitic basis figures in Spain are unchanged, this month, but the mills have indicated their intention to increase prices in September. Purchasers are doubtful that this can happen unless it is supported by improved demand or rising nickel costs.
There has been no real sign, as yet, of an upturn in the Swedish stainless steel market. There is plenty of material available and no speculative buying. Some stockists are undercutting the mills in order to shift tonnes. Market values have grown in the Netherlands but it is possible to get one-off deals, from the mills, at lower prices. Demand is fair, at present. Market participants hope it will improve in the remainder of the year. Consumption is reasonable, in Denmark. Sellers’ order loads are at the normal level for the time of year. Regional mills’ schedules are quite full.