Northwestern Europe sections stable, could see further hike

Prices for beams and sections are expected to stay relatively stable in northwestern Europe going forward, following an attempted hike by mills that brought the maximum to around €750/tonne ($821) delivered.

The upward move represented a rebound from the trough of €680/t in late November. That low point partly had to do with a saturated market and a seasonal reluctance to restock before year-end, but some observers also mention the crisis at Celsa in this context. “It could well be that they shifted material in the market at low prices to generate cash, given the massive debts they have,” one speculates.

According to a Dutch buyer, the market leader mill lifted prices in the last weeks of 2023 to €750/t, and has announced further hikes this year. A German source confirms so, noting that mills have acted fairly synchronised in bringing up prices. Another source notes the hike was justified by costs for energy and scrap, and that distributors were more active before Christmas, placing deliveries for the first quarter of 2024.

Northwestern European prices appear to be below those in Italy, where offers of €800/t are heard. This could have to do with healthier construction activity in Italy. The German source believes that “our market is particularly exposed to competition, so some producers will direct their offer south, where they could earn more.”

Looking forward, “my gut feeling tells me prices will remain stable, or increase slightly, but certainly not dip to the degree they did in November,” he tells Kallanish. The Dutch buyer is more positive with his expectation. “Hikes in the coming days or weeks are quite possible, by €15-25,” he says.

Christian Koehl Germany