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European stainless steel flats demand restarts

European stainless steel flats demand restarts European stainless steel flats demand is coming back to the market after a very long period of deadlock during which prices weakened and buyers purchased only small volumes. While producers in Europe and around the world are mothballing their plants due to the high costs of energy, demand from buyers has been surging over the past weeks, Kallanish hears from market sources throughout Europe.

Service centres and re-rollers forecast that the price slide in European stainless hot and cold rolled coils has come to an end and values are expected to increase in the coming weeks. Some producers have already started pushing up their values although stocks throughout Europe remain high.

Most steelmakers are not quoting coils for October delivery. In August, European CRC values reached an average of €3,000/tonne ($2,993) and approximately €2,700/t delivered for HRC. These levels, however, are now passé and no longer available. Some producers have already started quoting €3,300/t delivered for CRC with a second half of October lead-time. A large service centre says that “two weeks ago the market was dead but now everyone is looking for material.”

Asian producers are also increasing their coil prices. Some Chinese sellers quote about €3,300-3,350/t cfr northern European port for CRC but some other steelmakers in countries like India and Korea are not quoting.

Because coil output is been reduced globally, overcapacity will gradually fade away and stocks will deplete fast, sources forecast.

Stainless steel producer Aperam is extending its scheduled summer production stoppages into September at its steelworks in Genk, Belgium, due to the unsustainable cost of energy. In Spain, Acerinox is also implementing a temporary lay-off scheme. Outokumpu announced this month it will delay the restart of one of its three ferrochrome furnaces after a planned maintenance break due to record-high electricity costs. In Asia, the Pohang plant of South Korea’s Posco Steel burst into flames earlier this month. Two fires took place at the Second Stainless Steel Factory and the Second Hot Rolling Factory (see Kallanish passim). The company is also not quoting and has suspended production. A large Chinese producer is also said to be reducing output by 30-40%.

Natalia Capra France