Mills in northern Europe continue to have difficulty implementing advances for strip mill products according to the latest report by MEPS. Hot rolled coil sales activity has slowed since the end of September. Market participants believe that business in the final quarter may be more subdued.
Business is fair in the cold rolled coil market but there are few big orders. Local producers are trying to lift their selling values but they cannot succeed while iron ore costs are falling and demand is weak. Many automotive and other manufacturers are buying large tonnages of galvanised coil from the mills. There is little threat from imports as the price differential is not enough to make up for the longer shipping times.
Commodity plate prices were unchanged month-on-month. Manufacturers of agricultural equipment report losing sales to customers in Russia and Ukraine because of the unrest there. Demand from truck makers is fair, in Sweden. However, other heavy industries have slowed significantly. Project activity is fluctuating, in Norway. Sales to offshore applications are at a low level compared with recent years.
Wire rod consumption picked up a little, immediately after the summer break, but has now returned to the previous level. No change in activity is anticipated in the short term, although a small seasonal downturn is likely during the final months of 2014. The conflict in the Ukraine has had some negative effect on sales. Producers proposed a small increase, in October, for structural sections but were unsuccessful. Sales volumes and transaction values are stable. Building activity is fair. No great change is foreseen during the final quarter.
Activity in the rebar market has shown some improvement of late. However, there is a risk that scrap costs and consequently, steel prices, will follow the downward path of iron ore values. Furthermore, demand will diminish if there is a severe winter. Day-to-day business for merchant bar is subdued and there are few enquiries. Orders for farm machinery have been adversely affected by the unrest in the Ukraine. Local suppliers are struggling to lift selling figures due to the generally depressed market in Western Europe.