Several northwest European coil mills have left the market and are no longer taking orders, Kallanish hears from numerous sources.

Observers attribute this withdrawal to the fires at two ArcelorMittal Europe mills, plus Tata’s force majeure at Ijmuiden, which could create a shortage. Other regional mills have consequently assumed a waiting attitude to reassess the market, and possibly reconsider their pricing.

In fact, thyssenkrupp Steel says that “sudden production stops are apparently leading to bottlenecks for certain products in Europe”, but has refrained from confirming its market withdrawal. According to one buyer, “all mills have left the market currently in one respect or another.” However, he does not fear severe shortages or price increases, arguing that he is among many whose inventories are sufficiently filled to feed demand.

The new target figure of €900/tonne ($983) ex-works heard from Italy has not been quoted by northwest European mills so far. Some northern buyers doubt there are grounds for such an increase, given that overall demand remains sluggish, with no reason to expect increased momentum going forward.

“The spot price may go €10 higher, but that will be about it,” a manager in southern Germany says. “Until last week, things looked the other way around: mills absorbed any order at any price because the overall demand was so low.” Like others, he has not made a purchase recently and would rather refrain from specifying a figure for the latest transactions. However, taking into account distributors’ resale prices, he says he doubts that mills have obtained even the €850/t that served as an intermediate mark in March.