Italian stainless flats market continues to drag

Stagnation is persisting in the Italian stainless flat steel market in the first month of the year. Service centres and re-rollers are seeing a prolonged negative performance for finished product sales. Consumption is not forecast to improve in the first quarter, sources tell Kallanish.

Demand downstream remains weak, as do prices for coil derivatives. Coil values are now beginning to descend, despite mills trying to keep values high due to elevated production costs. Distributors’ stocks are reported as medium in Italy. Distributors and service centres, as well as tube-makers are buying low quantities or not buying at all, instead satisfying demand with their stocks.

Service centres say hot and cold rolled coil prices are too high, and forecast values to decline in the coming weeks by €30-50/tonne ($32-50). Mills in Europe are said to be more willing to negotiate now and are quoting February and March lead times.

With no change seen from Q4 2023, Europe is being affected by low demand and consumption, with some companies said to be in a difficult financial situation.

CRC is seen at about €2,430-2,450/t in Italy and HRC levels are at some €120-130/t less. In the rest of Europe, values for CRC are also below €2,500/t, at about €2,470-2,480/t delivered. Distributors and service centres are chasing volumes, putting pressure on sheet and tube values. No short-term recovery is forecast.

Some CRC from Asia has been sold in Italy at €2,200/t cfr, while HRC can be found in India at €2,000/t cfr. Imported material however requires a 3-4-month delivery time, which discourages buyers. A service centre says its results are about 15% lower than last year, while another talks about a 20-25% reduction.

Natalia Capra France