Short Range Outlook : July 2021

Global longs market still positive overall despite logistical costs and delays

Overall, the global long steel products market still looks positive, supported by strong demand, even though business has become more difficult due to higher logistical costs and time delays in getting goods from one place to another. Exporters are all under pressure due to the increase in freight costs. Container shipments are also very problematic. The only steel moving long distances seems to be Turkish steel and Asian flat rolled and coated products, which are heading everywhere.

Strength of demand remains a major supporting factor as economies rebound

Some regions and countries continue to enjoy strong demand, in particular, Europe, the US, Canada, the UK and Israel. Mills in these locations remain sold out far into the future. Steel is only a small part of the demand shock caused by economies rebounding, unprecedented stimulus packages, and logistic and supply chain disruptions. The steel supply side is catching up at a slow pace and supply shortages still continue to be seen across the Western world, especially in the US. It looks like this extra demand may continue at least until the end of the current year.

EU safeguard measures and Russian export duty to provide huge support for prices

The extension of EU safeguard measures is another issue that will have an impact on prices, in addition to the export tax on Russian goods. Russia’s imposition of a 15 percent export tariff may further restrict supply to the international market. The impact of the new export tariff in Russia remains to be seen. Most Russian mills are booked out for the next couple of months, allowing them to be in no rush to sell, and so they are keeping their prices more or less steady. The market seems to absorb the thought that producers in Russia will absorb all of the new export duty. All these factors provide huge support for prices.

Global steel output continues to rise, China upbeat after July 1 CPC anniversary

Worldwide production, including China, rose by 15 percent in the first four months this year, which may put pressure on prices. After the Communist Party of China celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 1, China came back in a positive mood.

Rebar demand in Turkey hit by high interest rates and inflation

Turkey is still struggling with high interest rates and inflation, which have put pressure on rebar demand. Although Turkey’s export volumes in the first half were up by 16 percent, this was not enough to bring domestic producers into the comfort zone.

Demand hits record-high levels in Europe, but steel users left in dire straits

Demand in Europe is still very strong and prices for deformed bars, wire rods and mesh have been reaching all-time high levels. The unchanged extension of the EU safeguard measures for another three years was certainly unexpected.

The EU has followed the example of the US which still has its Section 232 restrictions in place. The downstream industry in Europe was not able to find much support in Brussels, which has decided that the threat of trade deflection is still too high for Europe. It is now hoped that once the US changes its legislation, the EU will follow as well.

On the other hand, not only are prices a huge problem for the industry, but also more and more the reliable availability of steel is a big issue. Demand is still high but users are still suffering from supply problems and the new quota for rebar imports into the EU was almost completely consumed within the first week of the new quota period.

Extremely high freight rates contribute to regionalization of trade

Freight rates are extremely high for all forms of transport, which makes long distances difficult for ferrous scrap as well. Strong intra-European demand for scrap and steel as well as historically high scrap-to-steel spreads has continued to regionalize trading. It has also driven up the price of shredded as compared to HMS in the international markets. Demand levels remain elevated into the autumn, which will likely mean a continuation of stronger consumption in Europe than normal. Ahead of August, we may even see a negative impact in Russia as exporters scramble to move material to ports.

Life getting back to normal in northern hemisphere, high consumption levels seen globally

Summer has begun in the northern hemisphere and life is getting back to normal. Inflationary pressures seems to have lost some momentum after a period of strong producer prices. All markets worldwide are running well on high consumption levels, and there is still not sufficient material available to complete restocking.

Spreads between scrap and steel remain very strong

Iron ore prices are in a trading range of $210-225/mt.  Ferrous obsolete scrap is abundant. New production material and shredded scrap remains in very high demand in Europe and the US, with strong spreads over obsolete scrap. There are unprecedented spreads between shredded scrap and HRC. Long product spreads are significantly less, but are still twice as high as what a normal market might enjoy. The good times continue for steel producers, while consumers continue to sit at the table and eat whatever is served to them.

Main competition between steel consumers, not producers

Competition on the supply side is very reasonable. Price competition is between Turkey, India, Vietnam and China. Nowadays, the competition is between steel consumers and not steel producers.

Market situation generally positive and likely to remain so next year also

The market seems to be quite stable with a very satisfactory outlook. Overall, the market situation still looks positive and it seems it will continue positively next year as well.




Leave A Comment