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European Steel producers continue to attempt to lift selling prices

Update:2016-02-18   View(s):1274   Keywords :

Attempts by European steel producers to lift their selling prices were only partially successful. Large amounts of inventory bought last year when prices were at rock bottom, as well as weak enduser demand, curtailed market activity and limited price recovery in the region.

The European steel market started off the year 2016 on a positive note as market participants anticipated a recovery in steel prices. During the first week of the month, ArcelorMittal announced a €25 a ton increase to its coil prices across Northern and Southern Europe. Other producers were equally determined to leave a period of falling prices behind, and lifted their offers by similar amounts.

The South European market was particularly quiet in January, with few spot trades recorded. Large-volume buyers, having booked sufficient amounts of material at lower price levels, were mostly inactive, whilst others purchased only to top-up inventories. 

Despite import offers heard in January having been close to domestic price levels, around €275-285/t CIF Italy, many buyers were still awaiting the arrival of their import bookings made three to four months ago, further slowing down demand for domestic material. 

European steel producers continued the process of trimming their output, as it was reported that ArcelorMittal will idle (for an indefinite period) its 1.5 million tonnes/year EAF slab and coils plant in Sestao, Spain. Meanwhile, Tata Steel announced plans to shed a further 1,050 jobs at its UK plants, with the majority of cuts at the strip mill in Port Talbot. 

EU countries produced 166 million tonnes of crude steel in 2015, down 1.8% y-o-y, the World Steel Association reported. The biggest y-o-y output falls among the major steel-producing countries were in the UK (- 10.4%), France (-7.2%) and Italy (-7.1%), while Spain increased its output by 4.4% y-o-y.