Steel sections prices in Europe stable during exaggerated summer lull

The prices for steel hollow sections in Europe were unchanged this week in what some sources described as a “quieter than usual” summer lull, Fastmarkets heard on Wednesday August 17.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel sections (medium), domestic, delivered Northern Europe, was unchanged at €1,140-1,200 ($1,158-1,219) per tonne on Wednesday.

The corresponding weekly price assessment for steel sections (medium) domestic, delivered Southern Europe, was €1,140-1,180 per tonne on Wednesday, also stable week on week.

The holiday season, plus the fact that most market participants held high stock levels, meant that demand was very low. When buyers have needed to make a purchase, the tonnages involved were usually small and they have had plenty of sellers from which to choose, putting pressure on prices.

“There’s nothing going on, more so than we usually see in summer. It’s really dead,” one distributor said.

But the market was keeping an eye on prices for hot-rolled coil, the feedstock for sections manufacture, which have decreased so far in August but which had gone up for much of July.

Fastmarkets daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, was €757.50 per tonne on Wednesday, down from €798.75 per tonne a week earlier.

Sources were looking to September for a pick-up in demand and activity, although some believed that the market was unlikely to revive until later in the month.

Gas prices continued to be a key concern for market participants, with rising costs putting pressure on producers’ margins, and a recent agreement by EU member states to cut demand for natural gas ahead of winter contributing to the higher prices.

Logistics were also a concern across Northern Europe with low water levels on the River Rhine hampering water-borne transport.

Steel plate prices stabilize in Italy, slide in Northern Europe

Steel plate prices in Italy flattened in the week to Wednesday August 17 amid the summer lull, while those in Northern Europe fell, market sources told Fastmarkets.
Northern Europe
Slow demand and chronic overstocking continued to put pressure on plate prices in Northern Europe this week, according to market sources.

A producer source in Germany was heard to be selling October-delivery plate at €1,140-1,170 per tonne during the assessment week.

At the same time, offers from integrated mills in the region were at €1,200-1,250 per tonne exw, sources said.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel domestic plate, 8-40mm, exw Northern Europe was at €1,140-1,200 per tonne on Wednesday, down by €50-60 per tonne from €1,200-1,250 per tonne on August 10.

Italy-origin plate was offered to the south of Germany at €1,000-1,050 per tonne cpt, depending on volume and chemistry.

And market sources said that an electric-arc-furnace-based mill in Poland had offered plate to Germany at €1,000 per tonne cpt, but could consider a lower price in case of a firm bid.

The Italian market was in holiday mode during the assessment week with most producers and buyers out of the market.

The most recent deals for plate in the country were reported in the spot market at €930-970 per tonne exw during the week ended August 12, market sources said. Some bids from large buyers were heard as low as €900-920 per tonne exw, however no trades at these levels were reported.

Despite subdued activity and an unclear market trend, sources suggested that Italy’s plate makers will likely attempt to push for higher prices in September to account for surging energy costs.

“[Production] costs have started to bite, so clearly, we will try to increase prices [for plate]. We will see how it goes,” a mill source told Fastmarkets.

An influx of cheaper overseas material could hamper the possible price rise, however, sources said.

Two sources reported boron-alloyed plate offers from India to Italy at €730-760 per tonne cfr.

The most recent bookings of plate from Asia to Italy were done at €850 per tonne cfr in early August, sources told Fastmarkets.

Published by: Julia Bolotova