EU stainless coil prices rise

European contract prices for stainless cold rolled coil are increasing following the hikes implemented by steelmakers last month, sources tell Kallanish.

Over recent weeks, the steelmakers in operation have gathered orders that could not be placed with Acerinox or Outokumpu due to strikes impacting both plants for very different reasons. The long absence from the market of these two producers has balanced demand and supply.

Mills in Europe are now selling at €2,650/tonne ($2,871) delivered on average for CRC, with lead times lengthening into June and July. Italian contract prices are also increasing but lagging behind compared to other EU countries. Until last week, domestic stainless CRC stood at €2,530-2,550/t on average for July lead times, with asking prices at €2,600/t base delivered.

Contracts in Italy are however expected to increase on lower availability and better demand. Domestic hot rolled coil is being sold at between €2,300-2,370/t delivered due to the presence of cheaper import offers from Asia. Prices of both coils and sheets in Europe may continue to rise. Two European producers are currently not quoting for coil.

The stainless flat steel market is generally improving because coil offers are limited. Downstream sheet demand seems to have somewhat resurfaced, service centres in northern and southern Europe say, after 18-20 months of depressed consumption. According to two sources, the current improved activity should last until the summer.

Sheet prices are at €2,700-2,750/t ex-works in Europe, depending on country. The lowest point of the range has been registered in Italy, which remains the sick man of Europe.

A fire broke out at Acerinox’s plant in Los Barrios, Cádiz on 2 April, which the company says was started intentionally. The fire occurred at the company’s paper warehouse and firefighters put it out immediately, preventing serious damage to the plant. The workers’ strike there continues.

Natalia Capra France