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Stainless flats activity in Europe remains slow

Slow activity continues in the European stainless flat steel market. Both upstream demand for coil and downstream demand for tube and sheet remains subdued, with sources in northern and southern Europe not foreseeing any particular change in the coming months.

Attempts at increasing cold and hot rolled coil prices by European mills have mostly failed, as most countries are showing stable values compared to January. Lead times are extending for imported Asian-origin material, making import purchases less attractive. European mills are quoting March and April lead times, Kallanish notes.

While mills are sustaining high costs of production and say they are in need of increasing their prices, service centres in northern and southern Europe are reporting an average level of demand for their products. Some see the return of normal consumption following the post-pandemic rush. “The market is not booming any more, it is just going back to the normal levels of 2018 and 2019. We must forget about 2021 and 2022 – they were exceptional years,” a service centre comments. Another says that keeping prices stable is a substantial achievement and the flats market can no longer absorb any hikes.

Northern European stainless CRC values are now hovering at €3,050-3,100/tonne ($3,263-3,317) on average and at approximately €2,800-2,900/t delivered for HRC. Italian prices are at some €50/t lower, sources suggest.

Natalia Capra France