Short Range Outlook : November 2023

No supply-demand improvement in global longs market, regionalization prevails

The supply and demand situation in the global long steel products market is not getting any better, which continues to put pressure on producers. The increasing political influence on trade flows and particular markets in the form of antidumping and/or countervailing duties including also supply chain restrictions are leading to a more and more regionalized trade with a fairly unhealthy supply and demand balance.

Market unlikely to improve as China keeps exporting and holiday season approaches

As long as China keeps exporting over 6 million metric tons of steel products per month, it appears highly unlikely much improvement will be seen in the market. We are also approaching the end of the year, in other words, the holiday season, which is another factor that will contribute to a slowdown in the markets.

Turkish exports hit by war in Israel, Yemen’s involvement and poor EU demand

The recent situation in Israel and now Yemen’s possible involvement will have a big impact on Turkish reinforcing bar exports. On the other hand, EU demand is not improving and does not offer much hope to Turkish mills in the near future. Capacity utilization among Turkish long product producers is around 50 percent

Some price improvement in EU, but demand remains weak

In the EU, prices have recovered from the lows of the summer due to the shortage of stocks. Going forward, demand remains weak, but mills’ offers are defined by rising scrap and energy costs.

Demand for long products slows down in the US, where as flats are strongly up after end of UAW strike

In the US, demand seems to be slowing down for long products as most buyers are reluctant to purchase material that will arrive at the end of the year, in order to avoid year-end taxes. The US domestic market has seen some good news with UAW and auto producers more or less agreeing terms and returning to business and unprecedented gains on flat products. The end of the UAW strike was one of the reasons of the significant increase in HRC prices seen.

Imports are on the decrease and mostly coming from two neighboring countries subject to zero Section 232 duty, making business more regional, like in Europe. There are more protectionist measures being discussed, with the ineffectiveness of the WTO helping to make globalization history.

Scrap generation in Europe on low side

Slow economic development in Europe has slowed the availability of scrap. The recycling business has been struggling to generate sustainable volumes. There is low demand from the European steel sector and yet lower scrap generation. North American scrap is exported at comparatively lower prices than US domestic prices, at up to US$50-75/mt lower depending on the calculation. However, the volumes for many of the export markets are heavily reduced.

Sanctions against Russia likely to be tightened, US and EU to maintain trade remedies

The sanctions against Russia will be tightened. It looks like the US and the EU will maintain their trade remedies despite the WTO rules. They are even discussing further action against China.

China’s demand keeps raw material prices at relatively high levels

Strong demand for iron ore from China has been pushing up scrap prices, which have thus been maintained at higher-than-expected levels. It is hard for steel mills to decrease prices when raw materials are relatively expensive. China, on the other hand, has started raising its export prices, but whether the prices will hold is questionable.

Market status unstable for some regions, stable at low level for others

Under these circumstances, the current status of the market can be described as unstable for some regions and stable but at a low level for others.

Outlook for next quarter pessimistic or quiet and sideways at best

It looks like all the engines are slowing down, but inflation is also coming down. The outlook for the next quarter is pessimistic or quiet and sideways at best, but we may look for better times in the second quarter of 2024.




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