Some price increases and an improved level of orders were reported in December by the Italian distribution sector following a long period of destocking, uncertainty and low sales.
Sheet and tube prices are slowly ticking up. Re-rollers and service centres are implementing gradual price increases as, despite the better sales of the past two weeks, they see persisting uncertainty in the market. Sheet prices, which recently went below the level of €700/tonne ($743/t), will increase in January to €750/t ex-works for February delivery, in line with hiking coil prices. Clients are still trying to resist the increases, but some are beginning to accept.
Distributors tell Kallanish that demand for sheet is increasing and prices have reached rock bottom. They forecast some dynamism in the first weeks of January as the sector is coming out of a period of destocking. Despite there still being some caution, stocks have lowered, and the downstream industry will buy this month. However, some distributors will chase sales volumes which may result in aggressive prices and strong competition, sources believe.
In December, large distributors in Italy, France and Germany started to replenish their tube stocks. Welded tube prices have been under pressure for many months, as supply has exceeded demand. Discounts are now lowering from 37 and 38 points to 36.
The distribution sector also expects hikes for welded tube prices in January, pushed up by coil increases and improved European demand. Tube prices are forecast to reach 33 points of discounts when the sector resumes working this month, starting on 9 January.
Natalia Capra France