Northwest European hot-rolled coil prices edged up over the past week, but there is much uncertainty over real consumption over the rest of the year.
Argus’ daily northwest European HRC index was €632.50/t on 23 August, up €3.25/t from 6 August. In Italy activity is only just restarting after the summer break, with many participants still out on holiday. Argus’ daily Italian HRC index slipped from €631.75/t on 16 August to €630.25/t on 23 August.
One Italian mill has still been offering September delivery coil at €640/t delivered base to some service centres in the past week. This has spooked some, given September is not far away. Shorter lead times make it harder to mills to remain firm on price.
One leading European producer has announced €700/t ex-works to some customers in the last few days, although it is not necessarily a unified offer just yet. Other steelmakers are expected to table higher quotes in response.
However, demand is the big concern.
Service centres in Germany and Italy report low appetite from end-users, with some buyers cutting their volume budgets by 20-30pc. As a result coil stocks are starting to increase with German service centres, despite their destocking attempts amid high financing costs. The stock-to-sales ratio for cold-rolled coil reached three months in July, the highest level since last December.
Even steelmakers concede there has, as of yet, been little sign of any September restock. But they hope the increase announcements spark some apparent demand, prompting a stronger buying cycle.
In 2015, shipments of strip mill products to steel end use segments by European flat steel service centers did increase by +6 % when compared with 2014.
Comparing December 2015 with December 2014, shipments of strip mill products have been growing by +8 %, year-on-year.
On the other hand, shipments by European multi-product & proximity steel stockholding distribution noted a rather negative run in December 2015.
December 2015 shipments decreased by – 16 % when compared to December 2014.
For the total year of 2015, sales of the segment Multi-product & Proximity Distribution business registered a negative score. In 2015, shipments by this distribution segment were lower by -3 % when compared to 2014.
Commenting the developments in EU flat SSC segment, Cesare Vigano, EUROMETAL Vice-president, indicated that EU SSC shipments were supported by positive business in automotive and related industries and that in 2015 the SSC market in Southern Europe showed signs of recovery in shipments, unfortunately with economic KPI’s still on unsatisfactory level, due to permanent imbalance between offer and real consumption, calling for further progress in market consolidation process.
Mikael Nyquist, EUROMETAL Vice-president, outlined that European Multi-Product & Proximity Steel Stockholding Distribution was suffering in 2015 and that in a longer term further restructuring and consolidation will be looming in order to balance capacities also in this steel distribution segment with the perspectives of the market for multi-products & proximity steel distribution.
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