The consensus view of global steel market participants is that they are uncertain about the future direction of domestic pricing.
At this time of year, US and European flat and long product prices would be expected to weaken, as market activity slows down, during the summer holiday period. The implementation of trade legislation has given US and European producers the opportunity to counter the traditional seasonal price trend.
In response to Section 232 tariffs, introduced in the United States, the European Commission recently announced provisional safeguarding measures on steel imports. The introduction of tariff rate quotas on 23 types of steel is aimed at preventing material, which has been redirected from the US, from entering the region.
MEPS’ research, in August, indicates that European steelmakers are already aiming to capitalise on the supply uncertainty, by raising their offers for fourth trimester business to EU customers. Firm demand and a lack of competitively priced imports should support their pricing initiatives.
In the United States, local selling values have been maintained at elevated levels, despite the reduction in demand, during the summer months. This is due to the high level of trade protection currently afforded to US steelmakers. The dearth of import competition, notably from neighbouring Canada and Mexico, has strengthened the selling position of local producers.
Subsequently, US and European steelmakers have, generally, been able to stave off the threat of losing, in the summer lull, a proportion of the pricing gains achieved in the first half of 2018.