The Northern European long steel market remained quiet in the week to Wednesday March 8, because of a wait-and-see attitude among buyers and weak demand, sources told Fastmarkets.
At the beginning of March, mills were looking for price rises of €30-50 ($32-53) per tonne. But the market has not yet fully accepted such higher prices, Fastmarkets heard.
Market fundamentals remained unchanged in both the rebar and wire rod markets.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, delivered Northern Europe, was €700-730 ($744-776) per tonne on Wednesday, widening downward week-on-week from €710-730 per tonne.
Market sources were uncertain when, and to what extent, prices would pick up. Scrap prices were increasing and weather conditions were becoming warmer, so some sources forecast an uptrend.
“German mills are trying to raise prices, but the market is extremely quiet. No one really wants to commit to increased prices,” one trader source said.
“Cut-and-bend operators are still undercutting prices unnecessarily to secure work. Sentiment remains negative among [steel service centers], and this is affecting the market,” he added.
“Activity and prices are the same as last week,” another source in Austria said. “Little has changed. We are hoping for prices to rise and I think they will, slowly. The competition is fierce. The question is whether there are [service center operators] who are offering stock below their restocking prices.”
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, delivered Northern Europe, was €700-730 per tonne on Wednesday, widening downward week-on-week from €710-730 per tonne.
Market activity remained slow in the region’s rebar market in the assessment week, with the market not yet digesting the price increases, Fastmarkest heard.
“Mills announced price increases but it is not yet clear whether these prices will be sustainable,” a buyer source said.
“What is clear is that prices are not going to drop any lower. Reduced imports because of Turkey being out of the market, and non-competitive import prices, mean there is increased appetite for domestic stock. We are heading into the warmer months, and March normally is a good month in terms of demand,” he added.
Other market participants were less optimistic. however.
“Scrap prices are rising so we expect [rebar] prices to start rising, and producers are united in saying they will raise prices,” a producer source said. “However, I don’t see demand going up at the moment. The market is unchanged.”
International scrap prices, which have been rising since December 2022, affect the prices of all long steel products. Prices have risen since mid-February.
Fastmarkets’ daily calculation of the index for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix), North Europe origin, cfr Turkey, was $456.26 per tonne on March 8, up from $445.00 per tonne a week earlier.
Wire rod market
Market activity remained subdued in the Northern Europe wire rod market amid weak demand.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel wire rod (mesh quality), domestic, delivered Northern Europe, was €680-720 per tonne on March 8, stable week on week.
Mills remained unlikely to offer discounts on wire rod due to increasing input costs, such as scrap supplies, and expected improvements in consumption heading into the second quarter.
Published by: India-Inés Levy