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Imports put strong pressure on rolled metal prices in Europe


Prices for flat-rolled steel in Europe fell this week due to increased import activity, forcing European producers to adjust their offerings to remain competitive.

Imports put strong pressure on rolled metal prices in Europe

Two-week Argus Italian flats fell €22.50/t to €730/t ex-works for S235 grades, while north-west European flats on the same specifications also fell €15 euro/t to 765 euro/t.

In the south, for S275 material, re-rollers offered small customers a price of 740-750 euro/t, and for large volumes - 720-730 euro/t. The market remains divided between suppliers willing to drop to the €700/t minimum to secure orders and others who preferred to stay at €740-750/t and wait until the Easter holidays to see how the market develops. This week, two rerollers confirmed they were considering extending the Easter holiday by a few days due to weak buying activity in the market. The S275 ex-works price was also reported to be €710/t for orders of 1,000t and above, but this could not be verified.

Purchasing activity has remained low over the past two weeks as market participants buy what they need without restocking. A slight decline in slab prices contributed to the decline in slab prices. Deliveries of commercial grades to the Italian domestic market will continue at the end of April.

For the rest of Europe, Italian producers offered about 750 euros per tonne of S235 material on an ex-factory basis, without any tonnage. One source said there were offers at €760-770/t ex-Italy.

In Northern Europe, one mill is reported to have concluded sales to end-users in the shipbuilding industry at 750-770 Euro on ex-factory terms for grades S355. The same manufacturer offered a price of about 780 euros/ton, but was quick to offer discounts. Orders from the supplier are expected to arrive in six to seven weeks. One source estimates that for S235, integrated mills will offer an ex-works price of around €780-800/t, while re-rolling mills located in the Benelux countries can easily achieve an ex-works price of 750-800 euros/ton of the same grade. It was also reported that one plant in Central Europe is available for sale ex works at a price of 790-810 euros/t for S235. Manufacturers in the northwest supply from April to May, depending on the plant and product requested. Market participants agree that market activity is expected to resume only in the second half of April.

On the import side, over the past couple of weeks, Indonesian material has been purchased by buyers across the continent, especially in southern Europe, at a price 640 euro/ton cif for S275. Sales from Indonesia last month were estimated at around 60,000 tonnes, one source estimated. Following these actions, Indonesian content has not been available for the past seven days. There was also one deal this week at €710/t cfr EU north for South Korean S355 material.

Offers for S275 from South Korea this week were priced above €660/t cif Italy, with deals there was no agreement. Indian material was offered at $710-720/t CFR Italy for S275, while one trader was offering the same port origin free by the truck at €730/t for S355.

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