Weak demand continues to paralyze Northern European long steel market; mills remain firm on prices

Slow demand and a bearish outlook continued to affect the Northern European rebar and wire rod market in the week to Wednesday February 7, sources told Fastmarkets.

Despite depressed market conditions, mills were resistant to offering any discounts due to continuing higher input costs, Fastmarkets heard. As a result, rebar and wire rod prices were stable in the week to Wednesday.

Higher costs of energy, scrap and operations all contributed to prices remaining stable despite slow demand, sources said.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, delivered Northern Europe was €650-660 ($700-711) per tonne on Wednesday, unchanged week on week.

The construction industry had a slow start to the year, with new building projects still delayed due to higher raw material costs and higher interest rates, but the long steel market could pick up toward the warmer months, Fastmarkets heard.

“Demand is dead now. No one is buying,” a trader source in Germany told Fastmarkets. “There are no import offers now either — demand is just not there. Rebar import quotas are still mostly unused because of lack of appetite.”

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel wire rod (mesh quality) domestic, delivered Northern Europe was €650-660 per tonne on Wednesday, stable week on week.

“This period is normally quite slow as we are now mid-month. Any buying that did happen was done at the beginning of February. Now buyers are more in a wait-and-see mode,” a wire rod producer source said.

IREPAS Outlook
A bearish outlook and unfavorable market conditions continued to hamper any growth in the global long steel market, according to the monthly IREPAS Short Range Outlook, published on Tuesday February 6.

Mills across the world are trying to not reduce prices below costs despite higher feedstock and operational costs.

“Overall, demand was down by 17% for reinforcing bars and down by 10% for wire rods in Europe, but Germany was affected the worst,” the outlook said.

Long steel demand in the EU was constrained by a range of factors, according to the outlook.

“The reasons are, of course, higher interest rates, higher costs and the increase of bureaucracy due to environmental regulations by Brussels and local governments. EU mills’ prices have increased slightly due to costs. Going forward, a lot of wire rod and reinforcing bar shipments are expected from North Africa and Turkey,” the outlook said.

Published by: India-Inés Levy