Italian apparent flat steel demand falls after re-stocking: sources

Italian apparent flat steel demand has fallen since the end of the last week after buyers mostly finished re-stocking, local sources told S&P Global Platts.

Key Italian buyers had returned to the market after ArcelorMittal Italia, Italy’s largest flat steel producer, ceased taking orders for first-quarter delivery after announcing its intention to walk away from a deal to buy the troubled Ilva steel plant.

Buyers had also returned to the market as prices had already bottomed out and raw material prices started to move higher, sources said.

Mills began to issue quotes again at the beginning of December, with most orders concluded at around Eur415/mt base ex-works.

Stockists now have around two to three months of inventories, sources said.

Local mills had set targets for Q1 deliveries at Eur450/mt ex-works Italy, but re-adjusted to Eur430-440/mt given the reluctance of buyers to accept large price increases. Local sources said the price increase was due to low inventories and restocking needs. Another factor was the low attractiveness of imports, with large exporters from India having ceased offers, and low small arriving from Turkey.

Representatives of ArcelorMittal are expected to meet the Italian government and unions again on Wednesday to discuss the future of the company after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte rejected ArcelorMittal’s latest industrial plan. In the new plan ArcelorMittal said it would produce around 4.5 million mt of crude steel next year and cut 4,700 jobs.

— Annalisa Villa, Charlotte Bucchioni