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High competition squeezes EU cold rolled steel sheet market

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High competition squeezes EU cold rolled steel sheet market

London β€” Overcapacity in the European downstream steel sector and a slowdown inmanufacturing demand has led to aggressive competition in pricing in the coldrolled sheet market.

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Service centers are vying for what spot demand there is as industrial demandappears to have slowed. The long-term oversupply and fragmented nature of themarket has pressurized many companies with shorter order books.

"Daily business is very quiet, nearly zero tons, it's crazy at the moment...The service centers are very aggressive. For sheet, the price has dropped downjust because of the empty shifts at some lines and a lot of aggressivecompetitors," a German service center buyer said.

He said cold rolled sheet prices had been driven below Eur 700/mt (about$834/mt), despite the tradeable value of replacement cold rolled coil offeredby European mills remaining at around Eur 650/mt ex-works Ruhr, leavingmargins very slim after transport and processing costs are considered.

A western European mill source agreed. "For cold rolled coil, there's not alot of spot business going on... Customers are relatively comfortable withtheir stock situations and there are some question marks over Section 232tariffs. Nobody is in a hurry, although we start to see some customers comeforward to negotiate for Q3," he said,

The picture was better for hot rolled sheet with multiple sources noting animprovement in both demand and margins in recent weeks. Hot rolled sheet washeard at Eur 620-640/mt, while the spot hot rolled coil market has been stablefor months between Eur 570/mt and Eur 575/mt ex-works Ruhr.

The German buyer said he expects demand to return once end-users have runthrough their existing inventories, which will support pricing. "There are alot of inquiries for early July but no one is closing and I think we will findbusiness in beginning of June for H2," he said.

--Peter Brennan,

--Edited by Maurice Geller,