Italian stainless flats sales improve slightly, uncertainty remains

Some sales activity for Italian stainless steel coils, sheets and tubes is resuming in September after a long period of market weakness, sources in the sector tell Kallanish.

While most service centres and re-rollers report some improved sales, however, some sources believe this may only be the result of a seasonal effect. July and August were very weak months and coil buyers continue to order very little. As stocks remain high, sources do not expect a demand rebound in October as uncertainty and high prices continue to slow market activity.

France, Italy and Spain continue to drag compared to a slightly more dynamic Germany. Stainless flat products and tube stocks are said to be reducing in Germany, but this changes according to each distributor.

Despite the negative sentiment, the feeling in Italy is that the fall in prices of coil and its derivatives has ended thanks to the multiple production stoppages across European steelmakers. The situation remains particularly complicated for laser and decoration pipes, for which demand continues to be in a deadlock. Tube prices lost a further €200/tonne ($195) in September.

Despite some improvement in flats sales being registered in all European countries this month, “there is fear of losing orders, and uncertainty”, a source comments. Service centres continue to order as few coils as possible and are now receiving material bought earlier at very high prices.

Stainless cold rolled coil in Italy is below the level of €3,000/t, at about €2,850-2,950/t. Hot rolled coil is at about €2,500-2,650/t delivered, sources suggest. For October delivery, steelmakers are not quoting, but they are expected to push up values.

Natalia Capra France