In September, the activity of stainless steel buyers in Europe was weaker than expected. Many market participants noted that their sales volumes this month were within normal limits, but lower than in previous months, according to stainless steel market overview from MEPS.
European stainless steel consumers are not yet sure if this is a temporary drop in sales activity or if the market is following the decline in carbon steel prices over the past few weeks. In any case, it seems that many in this sector have taken a wait-and-see attitude.
Nevertheless, European manufacturers are still optimistic about the price level. In September, stainless steel prices continued to rise, especially for 300 series flat products.
The deal value of 304 grade cold-rolled steel is up € 297 per tonne this month to € 3,808 per tonne, more than double the September 2020 figure. Meanwhile, the average European price of 316 cold rolled coil has risen to € 5,132 per tonne, approaching levels last seen in summer 2007.
Buyers are increasingly questioning the wisdom of pre-booking supplies at current prices. However, without a real improvement in the availability of stainless flat steel, they have very few options.
Imports are expected to increase in the coming months as the previously ordered tonnage begins to arrive. Many buyers report that significant amounts of material are expected to be cleared from October 1st. At the same time, many expect that the quotas for Taiwanese and Turkish cold rolled coils will be quickly exhausted.
However, the expansion of EU protective quotas in combination with various anti-dumping duties of individual countries will continue to restrict import opportunities. Moreover, expensive shipping costs and delays in delivery are likely to remain a problem for those wishing to place orders with overseas suppliers.
A sustained slowdown in demand may lead to the fact that buyers in the near future will begin to resist a new rise in producer base prices. As such, stainless steel deal prices are expected to come under downward pressure in the last few months of this year.