French rebar market drags on gloomy sentiment

French rebar activity remains relatively weak, with slow demand from larger and smaller buyers. They continue to purchase small tonnages but at stable prices, sources tell Kallanish.

Domestic production is patchy with steelmakers alternating between stoppages and restarts each week. Production plans are changing according to daily supply of gas and electricity.

Sentiment however is gloomy throughout Europe. As sales activity has not properly restarted after the August maintenance stoppages, sellers and buyers are beginning to believe there will be a significant price and demand decline in October, and the market will go through a standoff. Uncertainty is causing weakness in the French construction sector, which continues to be plagued by high prices and slow private residential apartment sales.

Some sources reject the idea of a market deadlock in France. They believe the situation of demand and sales volumes will continue to be slow until the end of the year, with buyers purchasing some 1,000-2,000 tonnes of rebar per order.

French domestic rebar contracts are stable on August at an average of €900-920/tonne ($877-898) ex-works including size extras. The low point of the range is pegged at €850/t and high point of the range at €950-1,000/t, depending on client and tonnage, sources suggest. Some slightly lower-priced material sales are being reported, particularly in southern France, from Spanish and Italian producers.

Rebar market players in Germany and Austria also point to a drastic slowdown in home construction. A recent purchasing round saw transactions at rebar base prices of around €750/t. Mills then lifted offers to €800-840/t, although observers say these are hypothetical, as long as nobody is buying. The next purchasing round will be for production in October/November (see Kallanish passim).

In Italy, rebar prices are beginning to recede due to poor domestic sales volumes, and are pegged at €680-700/t base ex-works.

Natalia Capra France