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Falling raw material costs add to the negative trend in Northern European Steel prices

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LONDON: Northern European suppliers of flat steel products report sluggish activity, since the end of the summer vacation period. Carmaking, in Western Europe, continues to be depressed, while other manufacturing sectors show little sign of picking up. Few third country offers are attractive, with local prices at the current low levels. A substantial quantity of imported material is already available, at European ports.

Hot Rolled Coil

Purchasing activity failed to pick up, in Denmark, following the summer holiday period. Prices are under downward pressure despite the regional mills’ proposed increases. Customers, in Sweden, report declining demand. Producers predict a further slowdown, but selling values are, currently, stable, in local currency terms. Finnish sales activity is satisfactory but beginning to decrease. The mills’ forward order books are quite short. In Norway, current sales volumes are a little lower than before the summer break. Delivery lead times are shrinking.

Hot Rolled Plate

Demand continues to slow, in Denmark, under the influence of regional and global factors. In Sweden, project work is limited, and truck manufacturers are expected to reduce their output. Selling values are unchanged, in September, but remain under negative pressure. Russian producers are active in the Finnish market, due to a shortage of large scale gas pipeline projects, at home. Marine construction – using shipbuilding grades – is busy, in Norway.

Cold Rolled Coil

Regional mills announced increased official prices, in September, in an attempt to offset the negative effects of falling raw material costs and declining demand. This succeeded, in Denmark, where cold rolled coil values were stable, this month. Orders from European OEMs slowed, somewhat, in Sweden, in recent weeks. However, the country maintains strong export sales, boosted by the weak local currency. Spot prices are decreasing, in Finland, as a result of reduced mill input costs and mediocre purchasing activity. Cold rollers in the north of Europe are suffering from the slump in the automotive sector. Sales volumes are slightly down, year-on-year, in Norway. Prices are stable, in local currency terms, although the krone is weakening, against the euro.

Coated Sheet and Coil

Danish buyers report that European mills have spare capacity for October and November deliveries, while importers are quoting similar prices to those of local suppliers, for December arrival. The uncertain outlook, for the local carmaking and building sectors, is key to the galvanised steel market, in Sweden. The drop in demand, from the major consumers of galvanised sheet and coil, continues to have a negative effect on selling values, in Finland. Sales tonnages are decreasing, in Norway.

Courtesy: MEPS

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