European steel hollow sections market ‘absolutely dead,’ trader says

Prices for steel hollow sections in Europe remained unchanged in the week to Wednesday August 3, with market activity likely to be muted until the end of the summer holidays, traders said.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel sections (medium), domestic, delivered Southern Europe, was €1,140-1,180 ($1,165-1,206) per tonne on Wednesday, stable week on week.

A producer in Southern Europe said that the sections market has entered a calm period for the summer season, with more mills set to stop production for annual maintenance and traders in the region on holiday this week.

“As usual due to the holidays now, no one is purchasing either raw material or [sections],” he added. “Everybody is waiting for production to start again, not only for [sections] but also for hot-rolled coil.”

His company was not purchasing feedstock because the mill already had the material necessary for production in September and October, the source said.

Fastmarkets’ daily calculation of its steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, was €848.75 per tonne on Wednesday, down by €11.25 per tonne from €860.00 per tonne a week earlier.

In Northern Europe, sources said that much of the sector was already on holiday, though some traders may return to work next week, which could lead to some price movement.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel sections (medium), domestic, delivered Northern Europe, was €1,140-1,200 per tonne on Wednesday, unchanged from a week earlier.

While it is normal for mills to stop production during the summer for about two or three weeks, sources said that this year was strange because some steel plants will close for four weeks due to high production costs and low demand.

Another source said that mills were still making offers in Germany and were desperate for orders, but traders were not willing to buy until after the summer.

“Trading business is absolutely dead wherever you look. We are not doing anything, everybody is quiet and everybody is waiting,” they said. “Stock is available, but nobody is buying.”

Sources also shared concerns about rising energy costs in the coming winter after EU member states agreed to reduce demand for natural gas by 15% from August 1 this year until March 31, 2023, in response to reductions in energy supplies from Russia to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Published by: Holly Chant