Prices stable in steel rebar market in Italy, Spain after holiday closures

Steel rebar prices in Southern Europe remained stable in the week to Wednesday January 11 following a period of relative inactivity due to seasonal mill closures.
Mills had targeted higher prices before closing for Christmas and New Year holidays. Producers sought to maintain these increased prices throughout the first quarter of 2023.

Market participants remained largely pessimistic regarding future demand levels, however. Input costs such as steel scrap prices have risen, although energy prices have fallen, Fastmarkets heard.

Few trades were heard to have taken place in the week to January 11 due to Christmas closures.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, exw Italy, was €835-870 ($896-934) per tonne on Wednesday, stable since mid-December.

Production cuts have resulted in some mills not planning to restart until next week, sources said.

While some market participants did not think the production cuts would affect prices, other sources thought that prices could be driven upward as a result of constricted supply.

“Demand is slow,” one buyer source said. “Most producers have not even restarted production yet. Feralpi, for example, will begin on January 12 instead of its normal restart date of January 7.”

Some sources remained bearish regarding future prices.

“Buyers are waiting for better prices. I don’t think producers are confident that they can maintain the current price levels,” one buyer source said. “Energy and gas costs are lower than in December 2022, and this could be the reason why the producers are not able to keep the price at a higher level.”

Some sources told Fastmarkets that they expected prices to fall again over the coming weeks.

“Demand was good on the day of reopening, but now customers are waiting,” one source told Fastmarkets. “They want to figure out where the market will be next day, and if the price will stabilize or decrease. We think it will go down, but we hope it will do so slowly.”

International scrap prices have risen since late 2022.

Fastmarkets’ daily calculation of the index for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix), North Europe origin, cfr Turkey, was $414.22 per tonne on January 11, up from $397.59 per tonne a week earlier.

Christmas and New Year holidays resulted in there being few trades in the Spanish rebar market, Fastmarkets heard.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, delivered Spain, was €730-760 per tonne on Wednesday, stable since late November.

Published by: India-Inés Levy