Weak demand stifles trading in Italy, Spain rebar markets

Slow demand was limiting trading activity in Southern Europe’s rebar markets in the week to Wednesday January 18, sources told Fastmarkets.Before the Christmas closures, steel mills successfully targeted higher prices, but the all-pervasive wait and see sentiment among buyers, coupled with weak demand, resulted in few trades taking place.

Some market participants told Fastmarkets there had been an increase in requests for material, but others said the market remained dormant.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar) domestic, exw Italy was €810-860 ($876-930) per tonne on Wednesday, down by €10-25 per tonne from €835-870 per tonne.

The Italian rebar market has remained largely stable following the reopening after the Christmas/year-end holiday closures. And reduced energy costs and weak demand could put further downward pressure on prices, Fastmarkets understands.

“This week the market is still stable,” a buyer source said. “The market is flat, energy costs are at a 10-month low and scrap prices are stable. 

“The market is still dormant, and demand is still on stand-by. Prices have fallen slightly, but we think [they] will probably fall a little bit further in the [near] future,” the buyer source added.

Other market participants, however, said there had been a slight pick-up in demand.

“The price for the steel rebar has dropped a little, [but over] the past 10 days there have been more requests for material,” a second buyer source said.

“I don’t know if this is a coincidence or if the trend will continue,” the source added.

International scrap prices affect the price of all long steel products and increased in early January, but have since dropped.

Fastmarkets’ daily calculation of the index for steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20 mix), North Europe origin, cfr Turkey, was $401.60 per tonne on January 18, down from $414.22 per tonne week on week.

Demand picked up slightly in the Spanish rebar market in the week to Thursday, again after mills began to reopen.

“Buying has picked up along with scrap and buying has improved,” a Spanish market participant told Fastmarkets.

“General expectations are positive and another increase could be just around the corner,” the source added.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel reinforcing bar (rebar), domestic, delivered, Spain was €765-785 per tonne on Wednesday up by €25-35 per tonne from €730-760 per tonne.

Published by: India-Inés Levy