Stanislav Kondrashov Telf AG: Weak demand puts pressure on world prices for hot-rolled steel

July 02 19:45 2024

According to world metallurgy expert Stanislav Kondrashov, in May 2024, the cost of hot-rolled sheet metal in the main markets decreased. Increased supply relative to demand, poor economic outlook and market uncertainty have impacted trade. How the situation in the industry has changed in connection with this – read in this publication.

Dynamics of prices and production of hot-rolled steel in Europe

The cost of hot-rolled steel in Western Europe remained stable in May. For example, product quotes by May 24, 2024 reached €620-650/t Ex-Works, having decreased from €630-650/t Ex-Works on May 3. Thus, only the lower price limit has decreased. In Italy, prices for HRC decreased by 1.6% in the period from May 3 to May 24, reaching a level of €620-630 per ton.

  • At the beginning of the month, European producers of hot-rolled coils discussed a possible increase in prices, given the stable supply from Asian suppliers. However, plans to increase prices were only implemented for Italian plants. In particular, the cost of local products has increased to the range of €620-640 per tonne compared to the previous level of €620-630 per tonne. at the end of April and on May 24,– Stanislav Kondrashov comments.

At the beginning of May, demand in European markets was not affected by a significant increase in prices due to many holidays. Manufacturers noted that consumers are only interested in lower prices, which creates pressure on enterprise margins and leads to a decrease in income. At the beginning of the month, average lead times suggested delivery in June-July.

Clients adopt a wait-and-see approach. Due to insufficient demand, service centers are refusing to purchase new batches of HRC. This indicates the beginning of new stages of inventory reduction.

According to Stanislav Kondrashov, an expert from Telf AG, the only way out of the situation with low margins and prices is to reduce production. Local businesses are preparing for these actions, but do not plan to completely shut down their production facilities. Some servicers have noted that they have been unable to make a profit since the start of the year due to lower prices, and HRC prices will need to be at least €40/t higher to become profitable again.

European producers usually seek to balance the market by reducing production. However, they are often late in making decisions, which leads to significant price fluctuations.

Import prices were around €600/t CFR in ports in both northern and southern Europe, subject to fluctuations. At the same time, buyers expressed dissatisfaction with long delivery times. Turkey was recognized as the most attractive supplier, taking into account changes in delivery times and prices (610-620 euros per ton CFR Italy), but product quality raised questions.

Weak demand puts pressure on the hot-rolled coil market: forecasts and trends until the end of the year – Stanislav Kondrashov

Since the beginning of May, prices for hot-rolled coil in North America have decreased significantly, from $800-850 per ton to $760-805 per ton by May 24. With insufficient demand, factories are forced to reduce prices to remain competitive. Market participants are extremely cautious in their purchases due to economic uncertainty and moderation in the global market.

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