Italian distributors chase volumes, low margins

Italian merchant bar contracts are stable compared to the beginning of October, but the high point of the range is not achieved anymore due to continued weak demand and low purchasing volumes. Sellers and buyers believe this level of activity will endure until the end of the year with some better days towards mid-November when distributors will have to buy for the end of the year. Margins are tight both upstream and downstream owing to high financial, energy and production costs.

Sources in the sector tell Kallanish that the large distributors are suffering squeezed margins because of the lack of volumes, while small companies are seeing their turnover decrease each month.

Merchant bar values are on a downward trajectory, hovering at €300-310/t base ex-works ($316-327). Including size extras, prices are hovering at €720-730/t.

Section prices are also flattening versus the beginning of the month, under pressure from cheaper imported material. Both Spanish and seaborne beams from Turkey arrived at Italian ports at heavily discounted prices. The first category of beams on the domestic market is fetching approximately €800/t ex-works on average but material is often sold below this level due to the aggressive commercial attitude of some large service centres that continue to chase volumes to weather the lower consumption.

Natalia Capra France