Rebar trading activity slows in Italy and Spain; price direction uncertain

Slow demand inhibited activity in the Southern European rebar markets in the week to Thursday January 25.
Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar) domestic, exw Italy was €765-840 ($833-915) per tonne on Wednesday, down by €20-45 per tonne from €810-860 per tonne since the previous week.

A downtrend continued in the Italian rebar market amid slow consumption and a wait-and-see attitude among buyers.

Some sources said they expect prices may continue to fall.

“Demand is very weak, and winter is on. Customers believe the price can drop further in the coming weeks, so they are in wait-and-see mode, buying only what is strictly necessary,” one buyer source said. “Everyone knows that the energy cost is going down, so this may have implications regarding steel product prices.”

Other sources, however, did not think the downtrend would persist, saying they believe mills will resist any further reductions.

“I think that producers in the coming weeks will try to stop the downtrend and ask for higher prices,” another buyer source said.

Market chatter has persisted about Liberty Ostrava in the Czech Republic possibly closing due to financial problems and weak market fundamentals. If a closure were to happen, one source said, there would be a reduction in the supply of long-steel products across Europe because Liberty Ostrava is a major producer, and a closure could drive prices up in the mid-term across both Southern and Northern Europe.

No information about a potential closure could be confirmed.

Prices remained stable in the Spanish rebar market during the week.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar) domestic, delivered Spain was €765-785 per tonne on Wednesday, unchanged from the previous week.

Competitively priced imports could weaken appetites for domestic stock in the Spanish market, sources told Fastmarkets. Rising input costs could pressure mills to target higher prices, they said, but the market may not accept rising prices.

International scrap prices affect the prices of all long-steel products, and scrap prices have risen since December 2022.

Fastmarkets’ daily calculation of the index for steel scrap HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix) North Europe origin, cfr Turkey was $403.20 per tonne on January 25, up from $401.60 per tonne a week earlier, and from $397.59 per tonne at the start of the year.

Published by: India-Inés Levy