Flats price collapse unlikely, say Italian distributors

Flat product prices will not collapse despite the standoff between sellers and buyers in the markets for Italian coil and its derivatives, distributors tell Kallanish.

Suppliers say they are selling high volumes at prices “never seen before”. The month of March was strong in terms of sales thanks to the return of stocking by distributors and short supply. The slowdown in the flats market is seen as necessary after record sales and shipping activity throughout the entire value chain last month.

While a slight downward correction is expected for coils and derivatives from the March peak, flats are not expected to fall dramatically because of the current shortage of certain high-grade material. This is a consequence of the lack of ferroalloys imports from the CIS, which is causing steelmakers to lower production of qualities such as heavy plate 355. This grade is currently absent from the Italian market and subject to very strong demand.

Distributors say their sales activity became quiet last week but it has picked up this week. “The high-earners today are those with a large stock and a full range of flat products,” a source comments. This includes tubes, sheets and plates.

A mid-sized distributor says he shipped over 50,000 tonnes of finished products in March. Both producers and distributors say they have full order books. For sheets and plates, steelmakers are quoting lead times well into June, and for coils into July.

Natalia Capra France