Stainless steel purchasing activity in Europe was weaker than expected in September. Many market participants said their sales volumes this month were reasonable, but lower than in the months leading up to the summer.
Buyers are unsure if this is a temporary drop in sales activity after the holidays or if the stainless steel market has been disrupted by the drop in carbon steel prices observed. over the past few weeks. In both cases, it seems that many players in the sector have adopted wait-and-see positions.
Nevertheless, European producers remain optimistic in their attitude towards price levels. Stainless steel prices continued to strengthen in September, particularly for the 300 series flat products.
The value of the MEPS Europe 304 cold-rolled coil transaction increased by â‚¬ 297 per tonne, to â‚¬ 3,808 per tonne, this month, more than double the figure recorded in September 2020. Meanwhile, the European price average cold-rolled coils 316 rose to â‚¬ 5,132. per tonne – close to the level last reported in summer 2007.
Buyers are increasingly nervous about booking so far in advance, at current price points. However, without much improvement in the availability of flat stainless steel products, they have very few options.
Import volumes are expected to increase over the next few months as previously ordered tonnages begin to arrive. Many buyers report that a significant amount of material is awaiting customs clearance on October 1. It is widely expected that the quota allocation for Taiwanese and Turkish cold-rolled coils will be exhausted quickly.
Nevertheless, the extension of the EC safeguard quotas, combined with various individual anti-dumping duties per country, will continue to limit import opportunities. In addition, high freight costs and shipping delays will likely remain a consideration for those who wish to order from overseas suppliers.
A sustained slowdown in demand could cause buyers to begin to resist further short-term base price increases. As a result, stainless steel transaction prices are expected to come under downward pressure in the later months of this year.