UK Steel Market Evaluation May 2021

Dear All Steels Customers,

This is a relatively short note intended to provide you with an update on the key outcomes relating to predictions we made in our 23 April 2021 UK Steel Market Evaluation Report.

Steelmaking Raw Materials
Virtually all raw materials continued on an upward trajectory, as anticipated, with record-breaking price levels being reached.  In our previous note, we reported iron ore levels breaking the US$180 per tonne barrier (KORE 62% Fe/Qingdao CFR) and for the last fortnight, the rate has capitulated at a new record-breaking high in the band of US$208.84 to $226.07 per tonne.  As you would expect scrap prices also followed this move growing from US$427 per tonne to US$510 per tonne (HMS1/2 Scrap/Turkey CFR). 

The two graphs below showing this move requires little explanation to understand the impact on steelmaking. 
1: Iron Ore


2: Scrap 


Whilst the push on iron ore prices appears to have taken some breathing space over the last fortnight the dynamics remain unchanged with demand continuing to increase.  Hence, the possibility of another price run over the summer must now be a serious consideration.  Similarly on scrap the market is currently adjusting to the reality of the newfound high prices but speaking to one of our main Turkish suppliers over the weekend they remain deeply concerned that the price of scrap is likely to push on again.  The new concern on the horizon for Turkish steel makers is that there is speculation that the EU will enforce scrap export taxes and there are already reports of the Ukraine increasing its scrap export tax to 90 Euro per tonne.

General Steel Price Movement in the UK

In our note of 23 April 2021, we strongly expressed the likelihood of further price increases and this has happened at quite staggering levels as summarised below: 

Structural Sections
5 May 2021   – British Steel announced a £50p/t increase.
14 May 2021 – British Steel announced a plan / necessity for customer allocations to apply.
18 May 2021 – British Steel announced a further £100p/t increase.
18 May 2021 – British Steel announced a customer allocation system based on historical purchase levels.
4 May 2021   – ArcelorMittal announced a £40p/t increase.
17 May 2021 – ArcelorMittal announced a further £80p/t increase.
18 May 2021 – ArcelorMittal issued a rolling programme with restricted availability and notification of tonnage allocations to be applied.

At the time of writing this report virtually all other EU producers have extended a period of not offering to the UK market due to overwhelming demand in mainland Europe and the fact that scrap prices have not settled down so there is a reluctance to offer forward.

As a reminder since the prices started to climb on the current cycle from August 2020 British Steel has now actually applied a total of £410 per tonne of price increases.

Merchant Bar
19 May 2021 – Liberty Merchant Bar announced a further £80p/t increase to follow up on a £40p/t mid-April price increase.
26 April 2021 – LME (Beltrame) announced a £20p/t increase.
14 May 2021 – LME (Beltrame) announced a further £80p/t increase.
Other suppliers of merchant bar do not make public price increase announcements, but they have all applied similar price measures and most have restricted availability.

As a reminder since the prices started to climb on the current cycle from August 2020 Liberty Merchant Bar has now actually applied a total of £310 per tonne of price increases.

Hollow Sections
Like merchant bar we do not see official price increase announcements from domestic producers although at this present time we understand that Liberty Tubes has temporarily ceased manufacture due to the availability and price of hot rolled coil.

What we can advise however is that our buy price from Turkey since 23 April 2021 has increased by a magnitude of U$250 per tonne (£178 per tonne).  In addition to this price increase, there is then also a Safeguard duty factor which is unavoidable even when customs clearing on the first day of each quarterly quota window and this is becoming more sizable as the cost of hollow sections keeps rising.

As a reminder since the prices started to climb on the current cycle from August 2020 Turkish Hollow Section Prices have increased by US$670 per tonne from our own experience (£478 per tonne).  However, you then need to add increased shipping costs and a Safeguard duty impact, which became a reality when UK Safeguard Quotas came into force on 1 January 2021.  Both of these impacts are significant.

Supply & Demand
In our report of 23 April 2021, we made the point that we were entering a new paradigm of market pressures where demand exceeds supply, and it is fair to say that we are already now starting to see the consequences of this situation.  Over the past several days we have already witnessed availability being more critical than price and given that we are now knocking on the door of the mill summer shutdowns this problem is going to become even more acute.

Speaking out as a trader a new phenomenon for All Steels and probably many other businesses in the supply chain is affordability.  As a business typically holding 40,000-45,000t of stock with similar quantities in the pipeline financed by letters of credit our substantially increased banking facilities will simply not allow for such volumes to be maintained.  Hence, the only way to combat this is to reduce inventory levels to an affordable level.  It, therefore, seems inevitable that whilst availability from the mills cannot keep pace with demand dock stocks and probably stocks amongst the UK stockholding community will also tighten up even further.

As the saying goes it, therefore, looks like we are heading into a perfect storm that will inevitably lead to more rationalisation/consolidation in our supply chain.  Hence, it is now totally unpredictable as to how long it will take for supply and demand to get in balance and how far prices will rise in the intervening period.  The consensus is that unaffordability will eventually bring prices crashing back down but at the same time, you can appreciate the logic that steel producers can now see the benefit of keeping capacity tight, and with such huge costs of bringing lost capacity back to life will any steelmaker wish to make such a move?  It is fair to say that many pundits had speculated that the rising cost of copper would not be sustainable on the grounds of affordability but on the London Metal Exchange the price of copper has increased from US$ 2,908 per tonne in December 2008 to its current level of US$ 10,011 per tonne and demand remains insatiable.  Food for thought!  

April 21 UK Market Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

Two months have passed since our last posted newsletter and as always, the main purpose of such messages is to communicate All Steels’ views on the market / events and more importantly anticipated developments ahead.

In our messages over the last 5-6 months, we have been able to predict steel price increases primarily by showing the rising cost of raw materials associated with steelmaking that have all necessitated mills moving their prices up to maintain profitability.  The graphical displays with some basic explanations have been easy to understand and the steel price increases have clearly been justified.  Again, in the graphs below such base costs remain high and mainly on an upward trajectory, especially iron ore that has moved to a 10-year high.  However, we are now entering a new paradigm of market pressures that are even more price influential.  This being basic economics, where demand exceeds supply, and this is occurring at a time when stocks within the supply chain are already coming from a very low base following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is also clear that we have a huge gulf with respect to price and availability between long products and flat products where the latter has already entered a stage of critical shortages with a consequential surge in prices.  As All Steels our expertise is on long products, so our message needs to bear this in mind although as a seller of hollow sections that is a derivative of HR Coil, we do make some references to the flat rolled market in this context.

The usual graphs are detailed below and now require little explanation based on past newsletters, so we have skipped over the usual narratives as going immediately forward it is far more important to focus on supply / demand.

STEELMAKING COST DRIVERS

1: Iron Ore

1.7t of iron is required to make a tonne of steel. 

2: Scrap

1.1t of scrap is required to make a tonne of steel. 

3: Coking Coal

0.7t of coking coal is required to make a tonne of steel. 

4: Oil Prices 


Main influencer of energy and transportation costs. 

Supply and Demand

At present we have several factors which have created a steel supply and demand imbalance both at a macro and micro level and in no particular order we have simply listed what we consider to be the main factors:
1. According to the Worldsteel Association despite the Covid-19 pandemic 2020 global demand for steel only fell by 0.2% y-o-y, to 1.7 billion tonnes.  (This was due to a surprisingly robust recovery in China).  This year Worldsteel is forecasting that demand will recover by 5.8% y-o-y and in 2022 by 2.7% y-o-y.  We are therefore going to see all-time record-breaking consumption over the years ahead. 

2. On the world stage most of the main countries plan to inject huge financial stimulus packages and lot of this funding will be aimed at infrastructure projects to effectively build countries out of recession.  To understand the scale of fiscal stimulus around the world the Atlantic Council Organisation publish some very detailed information on their website and the image below best illustrates the level of stimulus packages by drawing comparisons between planned support to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the levels of support made back in 2009 to assist recovery from the financial crisis. 


3. Closer to home data produced by the National Association of Steel Service Centres shows that March 2021 sales had fully recovered to March 2020 levels but by contrast service centre stock levels are hovering around a level of 70 days of sales compared to a more normal 100 days of sales.  Very few stockists have been able to build up stocks.  Moreover, there is now a question of affordability and desire to build back to normal stock levels given the high costs even if availability exists. 

4. In our local market the difficulties for Liberty Steels are well publicised and until such time that group finds a financial resolution output from their many steel manufacturing facilities in the UK will remain badly restricted. 

5. China is entering its traditional period of enforcing steel production restrictions to curb dangerous levels of air pollution.  At the end of last week Handan Municipal Government, announced such restriction measures for April 21 to June 30 of this year.  The estimated resulting average daily production losses in Handan for wire rod, steel plate and HR Coil will amount to 8,700mt, 6,500mt and 5,600mt respectively! 

6. Closer to home All Steels has tried to keep its review of supply and demand simple by looking at EU production capacity and EU apparent demand whilst recognising that import balancing is more difficult with Safeguard measures in place.

Data 1 (below) is data published by McKinsey, which shows that massive EU crude steel capacity in 2019 of 216mt was reduced to 150-160mt by the end of 2020. 

Data 2 (below) is data published by Eurofer, which shows that apparent demand forecast for 2021/2022 should climb to 157mt. 

Evidently, we can see that apparent demand in the EU is forecast to have fallen by 13% in 2020 and to rebound to +13% in 2021 and whilst quick transition in apparent demand can occur steel producers (especially those that have closed plants and turned off blast furnace capacity) just cannot react so quickly.  It therefore seems inevitable that in the short term the EU will need more imports at a time when world demand is increasing.  In addition to the resulting tight availability Safeguard quotas will therefore start to be exceeded on many products resulting in large duty payments that we as a UK trader are already starting to experience.  In the short to midterm, it therefore seems inevitable that the cost of steel will continue to rise until such time that EU producers can bring on stream additional capacity.  All Steels’ view is that EU producers will most likely avoid such expenditure having now seen the price benefits of keeping supply tight.  They will therefore in the short to midterm typically prefer to take profits rather than take risks and go to the huge expense of bringing lost capacity back to life.

Data 1

Data 2


Looking more specifically at the UK here is our view on each of the products we trade.

UK PRODUCT REVIEWS

Merchant Bar

Price increases by the mills are becoming less formal by way of public announcements but they are all increasing prices and a lot of the adjustments have become more sophisticated and product focused where bigger extras are logically being applied to those products that cost more to produce or are on tighter availability.

It is the supply situation however that has become more alarming.  The well-publicised financial problems in Liberty Group are seriously constraining output at one of the UK’s largest producers (Liberty Merchant Bar).  We are also finding that some of the producers of the smaller sizes of merchant bar have ceased production (Cogeme, Italy & Feralpi Profilati Nave, Italy) and large producers such as Beltrame appear to be shying away from the very small merchant bar sizes and those product sizes where demand is traditionally small.  To cap off the supply difficulties containerised goods out of Turkey have almost become impossible due to lack of containers especially after the infamous Suez Canal blockage and this will probably take several months to rebalance container availability (the container box situation was already dire all the way through Q1 before the Suez Canal event).  As most merchant bar is containerised out of Turkey such supply has basically dried up!

What is apparent just now is that many UK distributors of merchant bar have turned to mainland EU supply to address the imbalance and whilst this should improve availability from UK stockists it seems a foregone conclusion that UK Safeguard quotas will be breached at some point in Q2 on EU imports, and this will either block supply to the UK as imports are deferred until Q3 or it will simply result in price premiums as the distributors will need to recover the 25% duty hits.

As a final point it is evident that merchant bar is probably the poor relation with respect to market prices on popular sizes.  Hence, whilst this is the case it is most exposed to the rising costs of steelmaking and any upshift in scrap prices, which seems highly likely in the EU, will automatically have to trigger further mill price increases.

Structural Sections

Since our last newsletter British Steel announced a further £30 per tonne increase on 5 March 2021 taking total increases since the summer of last year to £260 per tonne.  It was expected that price increases would keep flowing through to properly restore profitability for the large EU manufacturers but evidently this has not happened.  The environment for further prices increases in the UK seemed very likely with the inflow of EU imports remaining very low and virtually no supplies arriving from further afield. 

All Steels’ view is that underlying demand did not accelerate as quickly as anticipated and so some of the heat out of the necessity to increase prices diminished as scrap prices stabilised /slightly softened.  At this present time NASS data does show that stocks within the distribution chain remain very low and it feels like we are at that turning point when underlying demand is about to jump up with so many new infrastructure projects being awarded.  As shown early on in this report iron ore prices have also continued to push up over the past few weeks and pressure must therefore be returning to our domestic BOS route steel producer (British Steel) to increase prices.

What is also worthy of note is that British Steel does produce slabs on its concast lines at Scunthorpe and with slab market prices rising close to section prices this does present a very good profitmaking opportunity for British Steel if it wishes to sacrifice some heavy section production for more lucrative slab sales.  Logic would suggest that British Steel would not wish to cut section production, but it does form a basis for them to choose to be more price aggressive on section selling. 

Given all the above we are therefore of the view that we might be on the cusp of further section price increases that should become clear quite early as we progress through Q2.

Hollow Sections
As a direct derivative of HRC hollow sections are in critically short supply and it appears that the situation will only get worse.  As a large trader of this product, it simply feels like the quota level for Turkish, UAE and even EU supplies is inadequate since the new UK Safeguard quotas came into play on 1 January 2021.  Only last week we received retrospective C18, HMRC duty invoices for our proportion of quota exceeded on day 1 of Q1, and in the coming months, we will see repeat retrospective HMRC bills for day 1 of Q2.  (These are very hefty charges!).  Import duties are therefore going to become a standard feature of importing hollow sections and as general hollow sections prices rise this becomes an even bigger number!  We then have the headline price issue that is being driven by massive HRC availability constraints and the consequential price surge.

On Friday, the EU’s largest steel producer (ArcelorMittal) announced another €30p/t of increases to take HRC to €1,000p/t.  (€200p/t of increases since 4 March 2021).  The graph below best illustrates the HRC movement although it does not yet reflect the most current increase: 


Whilst this surge in EU HR Coil prices looks excessive you only need to look at the US to see what effect further shortages can have on steel prices where mill selling prices have tripled over the last 9 months. 


It is therefore fair to conclude that hollow sections will remain the most troublesome product.  Tight availability will become a bigger issue and it is difficult to predict how high the price will go but it is clearly going to be substantial. 

From an All Steels point of view we have already signed off contracts for Q4 supply, but we have only booked two vessel loads rather than the three vessel loads we booked for Q3.  This decision was basically governed by affordability with respect to banking facilities available due to the high prices but virtually all this capacity has been forward sold.  We have also seen a rush on sales of our hollow section stocks even though we have substantially increased prices.  It is therefore already a foregone conclusion that we will have little stock /forward availability for the rest of this year.  We are sure that other steel traders will be facing the same issues and it may be that we will see a reversal of structural sections displacing what has become traditional markets for hollow sections as we genuinely believe that the shortages will be catastrophic!  

Conclusion
As a summary note, we are of the view that:
1. World steel demand is likely to skyrocket as we move into a safer world post the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as a successful vaccine protection rollout continues.
2. Steel producers will have to increase production and possibly re-open closed facilities to meet new levels of higher demand, but their approach will be cautious keeping supply tight for some time.
3. Stocks amongst the stockholding community are unlikely to fully recover as the high prices make it unaffordable for many and the risks will be too high when supply catches up with demand, even though the shortages are envisaged to persist for some time.
4. Base materials that influence steel prices will remain strong off the back of forecasts that global crude steel production will grow to an all-time world record high over the next two-year period.
5. Other costs associated with steel manufacturing and distribution are all increasing, and look set to continue with further rises ahead i.e. raw materials, energy, all taxes including environmental, road transport, shipping, trade insurance, employment, mill housing/warehousing, port handling charges, etc.

The underlying message here is that the scene seems to be set for steel prices to remain high and with tight availability!

Please note that these are only All Steels’ views and experiences, which we have generally been asked to share.  However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on how pricing in our professional opinion is most likely to continue to unfold.

Jasmine Harrison’s World Record-Breaking Atlantic Row!

All Steels is truly delighted that our local sponsored champion Jasmine Harrison made her world record-breaking (youngest solo female) row across the Atlantic in just 70 days, three hours and 48 minutes. 

Jasmine set off on her 3,000-mile (4,828km) Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12 December 2020. Her safe arrival in Antigua today was naturally greeted with a fanfare on Facebook, and where she was broadcasted crossing the finishing line. What an emotional sight it was to see Jasmine triumphantly standing in her rowing boat, called Argo, and lighting her flares as she came into Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua.


As you can imagine, Jasmine faced several challenges en route. In the early stages of the journey, the weather was so bad she was blown back to where she had started from at the end of one gruelling day. Her incredible voyage saw her battling 20ft waves, being tracked by sharks, and a near-miss with a 750ft tanker which came within 1,000ft of her boat. It was only about six minutes before a collision occurred that Jasmine was able to alert the huge vessel to change course! The last part of Jasmine’s journey had also seen her tackle the Sargasso Sea, home to fish and baby turtles but also to thick seaweed that she needed to periodically remove from underneath her boat!


Burning 5,000 calories a day, Jasmine survived on ration packs, chocolate spread and peanut butter. She drank 10 litres of water a day - plus an occasional shot of Dead Man’s Fingers Rum!

Jasmine’s record-breaking feat has raised more than £10,000 for charity, with the money going to the Blue Marine Foundation, which aims to fight overfishing, and ShelterBox, an organisation providing relief to people affected by natural disasters.

“I want to inspire young people to get out there and do something, whether that be changing the world or just doing something outside your comfort zone,” Jasmine wrote in a statement on her website.

All Steels believes it is fair to say that Jasmine has certainly set an inspired scene for many others to now go on and ultimately share such world record and/or world changing feats! Naturally, we are also feeling proud to have been able to support and assist Jasmine in attaining such a world record-breaking nautical achievement.

 

Presentazione del nostro nuovo responsabile vendite italiano!

We are extremely pleased to introduce our new colleague Paola Itri to you all! 

All Steels has every confidence that she will prove herself to be a very valuable member of our international sales force. Paola comes to All Steels Trading shortly after gaining a Master of Science in strategic marketing management from ISM München International School of Management. There can also be no doubt that Paola will be regularly called upon to utilise her impressive range of European language speaking skills in collaborating effectively with our growing expanse of international based customers.

At All Steels Paola’s general responsibilities will include dealing with a range of domestic and relevant foreign emails and telephone calls, seeking price and availability on new inquiries, progressing existing orders plus controlling and dispatching all documentation legally required for example test certificates, CE required documents, etc for full traceability of all our products from the mill to our customers. 

October UK Steel Market Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

Changes in the steel market certainly continue to move at significant pace, and the forecasts we predicted in our mid-August note have very much all now come to fruition.  Hence, many of our customers have been asking for our considered view on the current and foreseeable market situation, so here is another relatively succinct update on observations, and our forecast for the most likely changes ahead.

Understandably the resurgence of Covid-19 is causing further confusion and uncertainty for us all.  However, it is also fair to say that most countries around the world seem to be taking the stance that the industrial world cannot be allowed to suffer, and construction markets all appear to be strong as governments advance their infrastructure projects to assist employment.  “The Get Britain Building Campaign” certainly still looks to be a top initiative in the UK, and if we look at the sales statistics produced by the National Association of Steel Service Centres (NASS) it is evident that demand for structural sections, merchant bars and hollow sections have returned back, indeed since July, to pre Covid-19 levels.

Our own UK rolling mills are also very busy and overtime working is now starting to be applied to keep up with demand, so the speed of positive turnaround of our industry from being in a rather dark place in the spring is quite extraordinary.

For simplicity, we have started off by updating the usual graphs, which we last presented to you in mid-August, and that we typically follow on a daily basis as it is these fundamentals that drive steel prices combined with supply and demand. 

Iron Ore



Iron ore prices clearly remain strong.  Recent concerns have been expressed that increased mining capacity coming on stream would result in a price softening and whilst the bull run came to a halt in mid-September prices once again seem to be on an upward trajectory. 

China's crude steel output is now estimated to exceed a record breaking 1 billion metric tonnes this year.

What is evident from media reports is that China’s crude steel production has been running at very high levels since May with consumption being lifted by the country’s infrastructure boom, and underpinned by their manufacturing sector.  Such activity is probably now sufficient to keep iron ore hovering around its current high levels.

When considering ratios of iron ore usage to the manufacture of steel it cannot be ignored that this element alone is adding circa £52 per tonne to BOS route steel-making costs since the end of April’s low point!

1.7t of iron ore is used to make a tonne of steel. 

Coking Coal



Like most commodities coking coal prices recovered sharply following the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As seen with iron ore, Chinese BOS route steelmakers are producing crude steel at a rate of knots with daily output records being recorded in September.

With such strong demand coking coal prices must logically stay strong, which the graph reflects from one of China’s major domestic sources.

The top graph also shows FOB Australia prices that are a good illustration of the recovery following the price decline at the end of Q1.

Moreover, only this week severe heavy rainstorms and floods are once again making headline news in Australia’s major mining territories, and we all know what impact this can have on both iron ore and coking coal prices.

0.7t of coking coal is used to make a tonne of steel.  

Scrap



As expressed in previous steel bulletins Turkish imported scrap prices are always the most reactive to supply and demand and other world steel events.

The graph therefore naturally depicts general steel price movement and little explanation is required to where steel prices appear to be trending.

Clearly iron ore and scrap prices are currently moving in tandem, so both electric arc and BOS route steelmakers both face the pressure of rising costs.

Unsurprisingly, Europe and UK scrap prices are generally moving in the same upward direction, so there is no geographical immunity to such increases in steel-making costs.

We also picked up news yesterday that the Chinese are reappearing in the world market buying up scrap and this could cause a serious uplift in scrap prices.

1.1t of scrap is used to make a tonne of steel.

Exchange Rates



The £ sterling recovered quickly from the initial shock of the Covid-19 outbreak, but it still remains weaker than its year opening position especially against the Euro.  Such an outcome only serves to firm up imported steel and steel-making raw material costs.

In an environment where we have American elections and Brexit negotiations closer to home it will be a volatile time for the £ sterling, and we would shortly expect to see some significant movement, but the direction is currently too difficult to call.

If you look at the value of the £ sterling against the Euro in particular, which is most relevant to the UK, the devaluation of the £ sterling here has added circa £36 per tonne to imported steel costs from mainland Europe since the start of the year.

All shipping and road transport for deliveries to the UK are also Euro based, so this is also adding additional costs to imported prices from the EU.  

Oil Prices 



 As is usually the norm the oil price mirrors the world’s general economic trends.

It is certainly reflective of what we have seen in the UK, with June and July showing the strong bounce back we have seen in steel demand.

It equally shows some confusion in recent months as the Western world wrestles with further uncertainty of the Covid-19 second wave.

On balance, we would say it shows improved confidence in the economy.

Whilst all these graphs convey a positive message for strengthening steel prices the same health warning applies again here that the Covid-19 pandemic could return to ultimately bite more severely as we progress through the cold winter months ahead.

In the section below, we have tried to give a short overview on each product group.  The underlying message however is that from the selection of graphs above is that everything is pointing towards a necessity for steel prices to keep on increasing, especially when you combine this with the knowledge that virtually all steelmakers are still losing money.  Evidence would therefore suggest that we will continue to see mill price increase announcements. 

PRODUCT REVIEWS

Merchant Bar 

Merchant bar prices are now firmly up by £40 per tonne with all the major domestic and European players having successively implemented a second round of increases since the summer.  Rising raw material costs are the main drivers, but the tightness in supply is continually forcing buyers to source many infill purchases from the wholesale market and consequentially radically increasing their costs by an extra measure.  Looking at the overall picture you basically get the impression that all mills cut back shifts and associated labour to deal with the early impact of Covid-19 and whilst demand has returned there has been a reluctance to re-recruit in fear of further Covid-19 pandemic setbacks.  The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have also forced the closure of another producer i.e. an Italian merchant bar producer (Cogeme) and the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic is again creating disruption to manufacture.  Even our own Bromford mill is currently taking some necessary manufacturing time out due to a small-scale Covid-19 outbreak and this issue is evidently most likely to become an even bigger manufacturing impediment for all EU producers.

We have certainly never witnessed supply being so tight on merchant bar, and at present we simply cannot see any immediate change in this situation.  Against this background if we do see the slightest uptick in scrap prices, as anticipated, further price increases have to be on the agenda especially when you consider that the increases applied to merchant bar to date fall some distance behind the movement we have seen on both hollow sections and structural sections.

As a business our own merchant bar stock for infill supply to stockholders has been heavily depleted, and we are struggling to replenish at the desired pace, and nothing on the horizon is going to allow us to correct this situation.  Container shipments out of Turkey also remain extremely dangerous due to the Safeguard issues with no practical solution to bonding the boxes should quotas get exhausted.  We therefore cannot see a simple solution for quickly filling our stock gaps.

Hollow Sections 

As mentioned in August imports have always largely satisfied the UK market and whilst the new quarterly quota system was introduced to better stabilise the spread of imports throughout the year it has added another complexity and risk to hollow sections traders.  The quota for the October to December period was actually exceeded on the first day of this trading period by 6,000t and all importers could be subjected to a retrospective HMRC C18 post clearance demand.  This demand could, by all accounts, be inflicted by HMRC at any time over a three year post the initial clearance follow on period.

Needless to say, availability is tight and bonding has once again had to be used by many importers’ ships that arrived after the 1st October to avoid duties.  Such constraints will be an ongoing problem and arguably the new individual UK Safeguard quota will tighten up supply even further with new measures coming into effect on EU imports of the product.  At present the limit for EU imports is set at only circa 10,000t per quarter and with many EU deliveries being made on trucks supplying the UK from the 1st January 2021 will become extremely arduous and high risk never mind deterring many suppliers away from the UK.  Some of the quotas set for mills outside the UK and Turkey also appear to have been set at very low levels especially for the likes of the UAE, which has been a significant supplier to the UK market over recent years.

The perfect storm on hollow sections supplies is therefore likely to worsen and the prices in the marketplace from domestic mills and dock stock sellers reflects what is an unbelievably tight situation.  Price increases since the summer of over £200 per tonne are commonplace and whilst some traders will no doubt sell forward at cheap rates they will be potentially playing with fire with respect to HMRC imposing a C18 regulation.  Another additional problem is that with so much hollow sections being bonded in preparation for clearance on the first day of each month dockside warehousing is in real short supply and simple economics is forcing up the cost of such storage for the traders.

With such huge obstacles and trading risks in play a number of traders have already called it a day and very few imports will escape some duty charges over the quarters ahead.  As a trader, we are trying to minimise the risk for our customers by heavily bringing in supply well in advance of each quarter and accordingly bonding material for customer clearance on the first day of each quarter.  Warehousing however restricts the volumes we can trade and therefore our own sold stock positions are being greatly reduced.  On the price front it will be availability more so than raw material price movement that will influence price movement and with availability being set to remain in very short supply it is logical for prices to remain exceptionally high.  Hence, there is really no ceiling as to where prices could go given the immediate circumstances.

Structural Sections 

The National Association of Steel Service Centres' sales statistics on structural sections strongly reaffirms that “The Get Britain Building Campaign” is a reality with September daily sales being in line with the average for Q1, Covid-19 pre-pandemic.  Similar to all other products mill supplies are all running late and there is serious confusion for the EU mills on how to service the UK post the 1st January 2021 following our separation from the EU.  Customs clearance becomes a new requirement in the process, but the bigger concern is that EU Safeguards becomes a new obstacle and whilst these have been tabled in the event of a Brexit Deal the EU has still not reciprocated with quota arrangements for UK exports to the EU.  In the event of a no-deal Brexit the proposed UK Safeguards immediately get thrown out of the window, so at this very late hour nobody is clear on the terms of engagement with EU section mills.  With such lack of clarity, it is possible that EU suppliers will take a trade break for supplies to the UK during January or until such time that we get further clarity. 

With regard to price, we have seen £60 per tonne of price increases since the summer months (2 x £30 per tonne) all of which appear to have been fully implemented, but prices have still not got back to levels seen this time last year even though raw material prices are higher.  It therefore seems apparent that the mills still need to make further price increases and with supply remaining tight and raw material prices appearing to be still driving upwards it is highly likely that another sizable official price increase will be announced shortly.

Please note that these are only All Steels’ views, which we have generally been asked to share.  However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on how things are in our professional opinion most likely to unfold.

All Steels' CARES Quality System Certification!

Dear All Steels Customers,

We are delighted to inform you that we have recently attained CARES quality system approval in regard to being certified by the Authority to purchase and supply steel products for the reinforcement of concrete.

For your convenience, a copy of All Steels’ valid CARES quality system certificate can be found by clicking on the hyperlink provided directly below:
A PDF copy of All Steels' CARES quality system certificate can be found here 

Hence, we are also very pleased to announce that as from the week commencing Monday 2 November 2020 we will have the following range of CARES approved REINFORCING BARS available for immediate ex-stock delivery:
SIZES: 10mm, 12mm, 16mm, 20mm & 25mm
LENGTH: 6/6.3m
GRADE: B500B
BND WGTS: 2-2.5T

Such material can of course be readily ordered in full bundles as part of a composite load (utilising the highly comprehensive All Steels stock range) – or in standalone full loads.

For further details about this new All Steels product supply option then please do not hesitate to contact your relevant All Steels sales contact.

All Steels Welcomes Alex McDougall!

Alex joins All Steels Trading shortly after achieving a first-class honours degree in Economics from Durham University.

It goes without saying that Alex will be called upon to utilise his strong mathematical and analytical skills on a daily basis in collaborating effectively with other members of the AST head office accounts department.

Alex’s key responsibilities will include processing group company payments for approval, assisting with the preparation of group company month end accounts including accruals and prepayments for review. He will also assist the head office accounts department with the preparation of group company VAT returns and year-end audits. Alex is also simultaneously studying hard to try to attain ACCA postgraduate certified professional membership asap as part of his planned continuing professional development.

As you can appreciate Alex’s group finance department appointment represents another very pleasing and key step in helping to secure the long-term and sustainable future of the All Steels group of UK family owned businesses!

Current UK Steel Trade Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

It was certainly a difficult second quarter for all steel producers, and our own rolling mills took their fair share of lockdown time as demand sharply fell away.  Thankfully both Bromford Iron and Special Steel Sections have been back in business since the start of July and demand continues to slowly improve.  On the trading side of our business many customers are asking for our view on the market as a multi-product trader, so here it is based on the usual fundamental hard facts that normally drive steel prices.

When I looked back at my last circulation I mailed out in mid-March I was pleased to see that I logically opened my message with the following statement:
“Everything said below has to be tempered with a belief that demand will slow down and it could even fall off a cliff edge if forced self-isolation and social distancing measures continue for most of 2020”. 

Understandably the same health warning applies again, but hopefully we are on the road to recovery in most respects.

My opening section below really just addresses the raw material cost fundamentals on steelmaking.  As you can see from the selection of graphs everything is pointing towards a necessity for steel prices to increase, especially when you combine this with the knowledge that virtually all steelmakers are losing money.  Evidence would therefore suggest we must be hitting a bounce back point.

Iron Ore


Mining commodity prices fell nowhere near the levels anticipated, primarily because of China’s quick economic recovery. Moreover, Chinese demand has continued to strengthen at a time when Brazilian mines have almost ground to halt as a result of large Covid-19 outbreaks amongst the mining communities.

Brazilian output will eventually return but in the short to mid-term the maths is simple to do.

A $30pt iron ore cost increase is just not possible for a steel producer to absorb so BOS route steel prices must rise.

1.7t of iron ore is used to make a tonne of steel.


Coking Coal



As more metallurgical coking coal production has been concentrated in Australia, prices have been more influenced by extreme weather over the last decade rather than supply and demand.  The onslaught of Covid19 however did take its toll on coking coal prices, but the dip was clearly short lived as the graph shows.

Evidently coking coal prices are now within $2p/t of pre-crisis levels.  There is also a lot of new speculation pointing towards rising prices off the back of many mining giants’ decisions to significantly cut capacity.

0.7t of coking coal is used to make a tonne of steel.

Scrap



Turkish imported scrap prices are always the most reactive to supply and demand and general world events.  Clearly, we are seeing a common theme with scrap prices having hit rock bottom in early April followed by a sharp recovery.

Against expectations of a July scrap price fall the opposite now seems to be the reality. 

The same outcome is also being mirrored in both the UK and mainland Europe.  Scrap route melters are therefore facing equal cost pressures to that of the BOS route steelmakers!

1.1t of scrap is used to make a tonne of steel.

Exchange Rates






As Covid-19 took a stranglehold in the UK at the end of March the £ took a thumping and lost circa 12% of its value.

Again, the recovery here was relatively quick, but it still remains much weaker against both the Euro and the US$ than its position at the start of the year.

Whether it is raw materials for UK steelmakers or imported finished steel this devaluation is significant.  Since the start of the year the currency effect alone is adding circa £35-£40 per tonne to steel imported from mainland Europe.

All shipping and road transport for deliveries to the UK are also Euro or US$ based, so this is also adding additional costs to imported prices.

Oil Prices


A notorious rule of thumb is to use oil price trends as a barometer for steel price movements.

Despite our move to green steel oil generally still has a bearing on steelmaking energy costs, so this again has an impact on prices.

In general, however oil prices are usually just a reflection of the economic world and without surprise this is pointing to a position of improvement.

PRODUCT REVIEWS

The pricing dynamics by product are quite varied, so in this second section I have tried to give All Steels’ true view on how we see trade.

Merchant Bar

Domestic over capacity for today’s UK market remains a constant problem and the imbalance on supply and demand has already taken its toll once again on merchant bar prices.  As we have all seen in the media the mills have been pushing hard for Government loan assistance and some support has been granted, but these are loans at a cost that have to be paid back.  On a positive note, I am sure the weak value of sterling will be assisting exports, but current domestic prices cannot be sustainable for the mills. 

At the outbreak of Covid-19 most of the mills took the brunt of the costs as they were left with the financing of stock as many stockholders/consumers simply closed.  The mills naturally cut back capacity and discounted prices to encourage some sales, but the balance now seems to have been addressed.  Stockholders have called in the mills’ aged stocks, mills and traders dock stocks have been heavily depleted, and we have finally reached the mills’ extended summer shutdown periods.

Everything therefore suggests a tightening in supply and a much busier period on their return from summer breaks.  Given all the other steelmaking cost factors referenced above price increases must be on the mills’ agendas.

Hollow Sections

As EU Safeguard quotas became exhausted mid-February it was almost guaranteed that hollow section investors were going to get a very nice margin return in Q2.  Once again this was another one of those lessons that nothing is guaranteed in the steel industry.

Demand fell off a cliff and Turkish prices collapsed, and the new July Safeguard quota window quickly opened.  As buyers have understandably returned in a cautious mode there has been a reluctance to forward order.  Mill stocks and dock stocks have suddenly become heavily depleted and shortages are now evident on many popular sizes.  This coincides with Tata UK announcing a £50 per tonne price increase on HRC that logically must wash through into hollow section prices.  From All Steels’ experiences we are also seeing similar changes in our Turkish buying prices especially when you factor in the adverse foreign exchange.

Hollow sections has always been one of those products of feast or famine with consequential dramatic price swings, and at present it looks like we are entering a window of famine!

Structural Sections
The Jingye Group’s acquisition of British Steel literally happened as UK manufacturing slammed on the brakes and went into lockdown.  Miraculously British Steel Sections has managed to plough on regardless and appear to have spanned the world to find the necessary sales to keep their mills rolling.  This was clearly a set out intent of Jingye to maximise plant utilisation as a first priority to improve competitiveness, and I am sure they will have recovered UK market share.  Even with such efficiency gains however the rising costs of steelmaking ingredients have surely reached a point where they can no longer be ignored. 

It also has to be recognised that “The Get Britain Building Campaign” appears to be a top priority Government initiative, so this has to bode well for structural steel demand.  The coming together of these developments would therefore appear to be good timing for a recovery in steel prices, and British Steel has already formally announced a €30 per tonne price increase to its European customers.  An increase on structural section prices for the UK therefore has to be just around the corner!

These are only All Steels’ views, which we have generally been asked to share.  However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on how things are most likely to unfold in what will hopefully prove to be a time of recovery for all concerned in our industry.

Keep staying safe!


Lee Harrison's ACCA Examination Success!

All Steels is delighted to announce that our accounts department colleague Lee Harrison has passed his final accounting exam with flying colours and become a member of the ACCA.

We think it’s fair to say that Lee’s motivation during studying was the knowledge that the qualification would enable him to further assist All Steels' group of businesses and wide range of respective suppliers/customers through the highly valuable experience and expertise Lee has so very successfully and well-deservedly gained.

Many congratulations Lee!

UK Steel Market Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

A fair number of you have recently been asking for All Steels’ opinion on market developments based on our international trade experience and contacts. Hence, rather than potentially repeating the same current message many times over here is our view on trying to make sense of steel trade in the UK in these unprecedented times.

Everything said below has to be tempered with a belief that demand will slow down and it could even fall off a cliff edge if forced self-isolation and social distancing measures continue for most of 2020.

My opening section really just addresses the raw material cost fundamentals on steelmaking, but as we all know it is supply and demand that always has the hardest bearing on steel prices.

As you can see from the selection of graphs below iron ore, coking coal and scrap prices remain relatively high, and with the knowledge that virtually all steelmakers are losing money we can take some comfort that steel producers simply can’t afford to cut prices:

Iron Ore


Prices clearly remain firm and the recent stabilising in price is reportedly resulting from the Chinese heavily returning to buying as they resume normal production.

The acceleration on prices at the start of 2019 leading to the June 2019 peak was primarily caused by major output cuts in Brazil following the collapse of a major dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine. This followed with closure of many other Brazilian mines due to concerns over the structure of their tailings dams. Production has remained slow to recover, so over supply has been avoided.
1.7t of iron ore is used to make a tonne of steel.

Coking Coal


Whether you are looking at Australia or China, metallurgical coking coal prices all follow a close trend.

The peaks usually arise at the time of monsoon weather conditions and resulting heavy floods in Australia.

Over the last few years prices have been in a more stable band of $160-185 per tonne and have remained relatively flat since the start of this year.
0.7t of coking coal is used to make a tonne of steel.

Scrap


Turkish imported scrap prices are always most reactive to supply and demand and whilst prices have tumbled circa $35-40 per tonne over recent weeks, they still remain much higher than the early October 2019 position. The downwards trending of scrap was expected to continue, but the tightening up of availability from US Ports as they go on lockdown is now becoming a constraint on supply, so this trend could reverse.
1.1t of scrap is used to make a tonne of steel.

Another big influencer of UK steel prices is obviously exchange rates and the message here is clear to see.

Exchange Rates



Since the onslaught of the coronavirus the value of the £ has taken a tanking with the loss of circa 10% of its value.

Whether it is raw materials for the UK steelmakers or imported steel this movement is dramatic adding circa £50 per tonne of price growth to steel with a typical price tag of £500 per tonne.

All shipping and road transport for deliveries to the UK are also Euro or US$ based, so this is again adding big additional costs to imported prices.

PRODUCT REVIEWS
The pricing dynamic by product are quite varied, so in this second section I have tried to give All Steels’ true view on how we see trade.

Merchant Bar
In the UK we are blessed with a good volume of domestic mills including Bromford Iron, Celsa UK, Liberty Merchant Bar, etc, but all these mills have the reverse benefit on exchange rates with a 10% sterling return gain on Euro selling prices.

Moreover, two of the most prolific producers of merchant bar in Europe (Beltrame Italy & LME France) are both on coronavirus lockdowns for manufacture and despatches. There are also many other small family merchant bar mills in southern Europe that are also known to be closed. This is creating a huge mainland European demand for our domestic mills whilst a hole is left in import supplies to the UK from Beltrame and LME. This has resulted in Celsa UK applying £50 per tonne of increases on deliveries this coming week (£25 per tonne on Monday 23-3-20 + £25 per tonne on Thursday 26-3-20). 

Our other domestic mills are also applying increases, but demand is really tight and providing demand holds up more dramatic increases seem inevitable. We also can’t rule out the risk of the domestic mills suffering the same fate as LME/Beltrame. The chances of the latter has to be high as it does not take too many key operatives to be absent for a mill / steel plant not to function.

Hollow Sections
There has been an abundance of hollow section availability with so many purchasers buying so heavily to beat EU Safeguards against the Turkish supply quota that got exhausted much quicker than anticipated in mid-February. Dock stocks do remain relatively high and All Steels also heavily front loaded to beat Safeguard quotas, but the holes are just starting to appear in our hollow sections stock range.

With no prospects of Turkish imports being possible until the new Safeguard quota window opens on the 1st July supply has to tighten up as we step through each month in Q2. It is also worthy of note that Italian imports will clearly become more difficult with the coronavirus constraints on both production and logistics. With respect to replacement prices out of Turkey current prices are high due to the weak value of the £, so domestic prices in the UK have to rise over the next three months, but this will be somewhat curtailed by an anticipated weakening in demand.

Structural Sections
This is another product where stocks have remained high in the UK as everyone bought heavily in anticipation of price increases pre-Christmas and then demand suddenly weakened. The price increases had all failed by the time we entered February, but two factors will come into play on forward supplies.

1. Virtually half the UK supply is satisfied by EU imports and the 10% devaluation of sterling against the Euro must end up being reflected on import prices.

2. Over the weekend ArcelorMittal has declared a force majeure on raw materials supplied to its European steel mills. This signals a strong message on the likelihood of further mill closures. The likes of Duferdofin Nucor, Italy’s largest section producer is already closed and more must follow. When one of these mills goes down it leaves a huge hole in the supply chain. When more than one mill goes on lockdown availability will become analogous to trying in vain to purchase a fair share of necessary toilet rolls from one of Britain’s supermarkets!

These are only All Steels’ views, which we have generally been asked to share. However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on what is most likely to unfold in these difficult business times.

Stay safe.

Best regards,

Laurence McDougall
Managing Director

UK Steel Market Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

A fair number of you have recently been asking for All Steels’ opinion on market developments based on our international trade experience and contacts. Hence, rather than potentially repeating the same current message many times over here is our view on trying to make sense of steel trade in the UK in these unprecedented times.

Everything said below has to be tempered with a belief that demand will slow down and it could even fall off a cliff edge if forced self-isolation and social distancing measures continue for most of 2020.

My opening section really just addresses the raw material cost fundamentals on steelmaking, but as we all know it is supply and demand that always has the hardest bearing on steel prices.

As you can see from the selection of graphs below iron ore, coking coal and scrap prices remain relatively high, and with the knowledge that virtually all steelmakers are losing money we can take some comfort that steel producers simply can’t afford to cut prices:

Iron Ore


Prices clearly remain firm and the recent stabilising in price is reportedly resulting from the Chinese heavily returning to buying as they resume normal production.

The acceleration on prices at the start of 2019 leading to the June 2019 peak was primarily caused by major output cuts in Brazil following the collapse of a major dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine. This followed with closure of many other Brazilian mines due to concerns over the structure of their tailings dams. Production has remained slow to recover, so over supply has been avoided.
1.7t of iron ore is used to make a tonne of steel.

Coking Coal


Whether you are looking at Australia or China, metallurgical coking coal prices all follow a close trend.

The peaks usually arise at the time of monsoon weather conditions and resulting heavy floods in Australia.

Over the last few years prices have been in a more stable band of $160-185 per tonne and have remained relatively flat since the start of this year.
0.7t of coking coal is used to make a tonne of steel.

Scrap


Turkish imported scrap prices are always most reactive to supply and demand and whilst prices have tumbled circa $35-40 per tonne over recent weeks, they still remain much higher than the early October 2019 position. The downwards trending of scrap was expected to continue, but the tightening up of availability from US Ports as they go on lockdown is now becoming a constraint on supply, so this trend could reverse.
1.1t of scrap is used to make a tonne of steel.

Another big influencer of UK steel prices is obviously exchange rates and the message here is clear to see.

Exchange Rates



Since the onslaught of the coronavirus the value of the £ has taken a tanking with the loss of circa 10% of its value.

Whether it is raw materials for the UK steelmakers or imported steel this movement is dramatic adding circa £50 per tonne of price growth to steel with a typical price tag of £500 per tonne.

All shipping and road transport for deliveries to the UK are also Euro or US$ based, so this is again adding big additional costs to imported prices.

PRODUCT REVIEWS
The pricing dynamic by product are quite varied, so in this second section I have tried to give All Steels’ true view on how we see trade.

Merchant Bar
In the UK we are blessed with a good volume of domestic mills including Bromford Iron, Celsa UK, Liberty Merchant Bar, etc, but all these mills have the reverse benefit on exchange rates with a 10% sterling return gain on Euro selling prices.

Moreover, two of the most prolific producers of merchant bar in Europe (Beltrame Italy & LME France) are both on coronavirus lockdowns for manufacture and despatches. There are also many other small family merchant bar mills in southern Europe that are also known to be closed. This is creating a huge mainland European demand for our domestic mills whilst a hole is left in import supplies to the UK from Beltrame and LME. This has resulted in Celsa UK applying £50 per tonne of increases on deliveries this coming week (£25 per tonne on Monday 23-3-20 + £25 per tonne on Thursday 26-3-20). 

Our other domestic mills are also applying increases, but demand is really tight and providing demand holds up more dramatic increases seem inevitable. We also can’t rule out the risk of the domestic mills suffering the same fate as LME/Beltrame. The chances of the latter has to be high as it does not take too many key operatives to be absent for a mill / steel plant not to function.

Hollow Sections
There has been an abundance of hollow section availability with so many purchasers buying so heavily to beat EU Safeguards against the Turkish supply quota that got exhausted much quicker than anticipated in mid-February. Dock stocks do remain relatively high and All Steels also heavily front loaded to beat Safeguard quotas, but the holes are just starting to appear in our hollow sections stock range.

With no prospects of Turkish imports being possible until the new Safeguard quota window opens on the 1st July supply has to tighten up as we step through each month in Q2. It is also worthy of note that Italian imports will clearly become more difficult with the coronavirus constraints on both production and logistics. With respect to replacement prices out of Turkey current prices are high due to the weak value of the £, so domestic prices in the UK have to rise over the next three months, but this will be somewhat curtailed by an anticipated weakening in demand.

Structural Sections
This is another product where stocks have remained high in the UK as everyone bought heavily in anticipation of price increases pre-Christmas and then demand suddenly weakened. The price increases had all failed by the time we entered February, but two factors will come into play on forward supplies.

1. Virtually half the UK supply is satisfied by EU imports and the 10% devaluation of sterling against the Euro must end up being reflected on import prices.

2. Over the weekend ArcelorMittal has declared a force majeure on raw materials supplied to its European steel mills. This signals a strong message on the likelihood of further mill closures. The likes of Duferdofin Nucor, Italy’s largest section producer is already closed and more must follow. When one of these mills goes down it leaves a huge hole in the supply chain. When more than one mill goes on lockdown availability will become analogous to trying in vain to purchase a fair share of necessary toilet rolls from one of Britain’s supermarkets!

These are only All Steels’ views, which we have generally been asked to share. However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on what is most likely to unfold in these difficult business times.

Stay safe.

Best regards,

Laurence McDougall
Managing Director

UK Steel Market Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

A fair number of you have recently been asking for All Steels’ opinion on market developments based on our international trade experience and contacts. Hence, rather than potentially repeating the same current message many times over here is our view on trying to make sense of steel trade in the UK in these unprecedented times.

Everything said below has to be tempered with a belief that demand will slow down and it could even fall off a cliff edge if forced self-isolation and social distancing measures continue for most of 2020.

My opening section really just addresses the raw material cost fundamentals on steelmaking, but as we all know it is supply and demand that always has the hardest bearing on steel prices.

As you can see from the selection of graphs below iron ore, coking coal and scrap prices remain relatively high, and with the knowledge that virtually all steelmakers are losing money we can take some comfort that steel producers simply can’t afford to cut prices:

Iron Ore


Prices clearly remain firm and the recent stabilising in price is reportedly resulting from the Chinese heavily returning to buying as they resume normal production.

The acceleration on prices at the start of 2019 leading to the June 2019 peak was primarily caused by major output cuts in Brazil following the collapse of a major dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine. This followed with closure of many other Brazilian mines due to concerns over the structure of their tailings dams. Production has remained slow to recover, so over supply has been avoided.
1.7t of iron ore is used to make a tonne of steel.

Coking Coal


Whether you are looking at Australia or China, metallurgical coking coal prices all follow a close trend.

The peaks usually arise at the time of monsoon weather conditions and resulting heavy floods in Australia.

Over the last few years prices have been in a more stable band of $160-185 per tonne and have remained relatively flat since the start of this year.
0.7t of coking coal is used to make a tonne of steel.

Scrap


Turkish imported scrap prices are always most reactive to supply and demand and whilst prices have tumbled circa $35-40 per tonne over recent weeks, they still remain much higher than the early October 2019 position. The downwards trending of scrap was expected to continue, but the tightening up of availability from US Ports as they go on lockdown is now becoming a constraint on supply, so this trend could reverse.
1.1t of scrap is used to make a tonne of steel.

Another big influencer of UK steel prices is obviously exchange rates and the message here is clear to see.

Exchange Rates



Since the onslaught of the coronavirus the value of the £ has taken a tanking with the loss of circa 10% of its value.

Whether it is raw materials for the UK steelmakers or imported steel this movement is dramatic adding circa £50 per tonne of price growth to steel with a typical price tag of £500 per tonne.

All shipping and road transport for deliveries to the UK are also Euro or US$ based, so this is again adding big additional costs to imported prices.

PRODUCT REVIEWS
The pricing dynamic by product are quite varied, so in this second section I have tried to give All Steels’ true view on how we see trade.

Merchant Bar
In the UK we are blessed with a good volume of domestic mills including Bromford Iron, Celsa UK, Liberty Merchant Bar, etc, but all these mills have the reverse benefit on exchange rates with a 10% sterling return gain on Euro selling prices.

Moreover, two of the most prolific producers of merchant bar in Europe (Beltrame Italy & LME France) are both on coronavirus lockdowns for manufacture and despatches. There are also many other small family merchant bar mills in southern Europe that are also known to be closed. This is creating a huge mainland European demand for our domestic mills whilst a hole is left in import supplies to the UK from Beltrame and LME. This has resulted in Celsa UK applying £50 per tonne of increases on deliveries this coming week (£25 per tonne on Monday 23-3-20 + £25 per tonne on Thursday 26-3-20). 

Our other domestic mills are also applying increases, but demand is really tight and providing demand holds up more dramatic increases seem inevitable. We also can’t rule out the risk of the domestic mills suffering the same fate as LME/Beltrame. The chances of the latter has to be high as it does not take too many key operatives to be absent for a mill / steel plant not to function.

Hollow Sections
There has been an abundance of hollow section availability with so many purchasers buying so heavily to beat EU Safeguards against the Turkish supply quota that got exhausted much quicker than anticipated in mid-February. Dock stocks do remain relatively high and All Steels also heavily front loaded to beat Safeguard quotas, but the holes are just starting to appear in our hollow sections stock range.

With no prospects of Turkish imports being possible until the new Safeguard quota window opens on the 1st July supply has to tighten up as we step through each month in Q2. It is also worthy of note that Italian imports will clearly become more difficult with the coronavirus constraints on both production and logistics. With respect to replacement prices out of Turkey current prices are high due to the weak value of the £, so domestic prices in the UK have to rise over the next three months, but this will be somewhat curtailed by an anticipated weakening in demand.

Structural Sections
This is another product where stocks have remained high in the UK as everyone bought heavily in anticipation of price increases pre-Christmas and then demand suddenly weakened. The price increases had all failed by the time we entered February, but two factors will come into play on forward supplies.

1. Virtually half the UK supply is satisfied by EU imports and the 10% devaluation of sterling against the Euro must end up being reflected on import prices.

2. Over the weekend ArcelorMittal has declared a force majeure on raw materials supplied to its European steel mills. This signals a strong message on the likelihood of further mill closures. The likes of Duferdofin Nucor, Italy’s largest section producer is already closed and more must follow. When one of these mills goes down it leaves a huge hole in the supply chain. When more than one mill goes on lockdown availability will become analogous to trying in vain to purchase a fair share of necessary toilet rolls from one of Britain’s supermarkets!

These are only All Steels’ views, which we have generally been asked to share. However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on what is most likely to unfold in these difficult business times.

Stay safe.

Best regards,

Laurence McDougall
Managing Director

UK Steel Market Evaluation

Dear All Steels Customers,

A fair number of you have recently been asking for All Steels’ opinion on market developments based on our international trade experience and contacts. Hence, rather than potentially repeating the same current message many times over here is our view on trying to make sense of steel trade in the UK in these unprecedented times.

Everything said below has to be tempered with a belief that demand will slow down and it could even fall off a cliff edge if forced self-isolation and social distancing measures continue for most of 2020.

My opening section really just addresses the raw material cost fundamentals on steelmaking, but as we all know it is supply and demand that always has the hardest bearing on steel prices.

As you can see from the selection of graphs below iron ore, coking coal and scrap prices remain relatively high, and with the knowledge that virtually all steelmakers are losing money we can take some comfort that steel producers simply can’t afford to cut prices:

Iron Ore


Prices clearly remain firm and the recent stabilising in price is reportedly resulting from the Chinese heavily returning to buying as they resume normal production.

The acceleration on prices at the start of 2019 leading to the June 2019 peak was primarily caused by major output cuts in Brazil following the collapse of a major dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine. This followed with closure of many other Brazilian mines due to concerns over the structure of their tailings dams. Production has remained slow to recover, so over supply has been avoided.
1.7t of iron ore is used to make a tonne of steel.

Coking Coal


Whether you are looking at Australia or China, metallurgical coking coal prices all follow a close trend.

The peaks usually arise at the time of monsoon weather conditions and resulting heavy floods in Australia.

Over the last few years prices have been in a more stable band of $160-185 per tonne and have remained relatively flat since the start of this year.
0.7t of coking coal is used to make a tonne of steel.

Scrap


Turkish imported scrap prices are always most reactive to supply and demand and whilst prices have tumbled circa $35-40 per tonne over recent weeks, they still remain much higher than the early October 2019 position. The downwards trending of scrap was expected to continue, but the tightening up of availability from US Ports as they go on lockdown is now becoming a constraint on supply, so this trend could reverse.
1.1t of scrap is used to make a tonne of steel.

Another big influencer of UK steel prices is obviously exchange rates and the message here is clear to see.

Exchange Rates



Since the onslaught of the coronavirus the value of the £ has taken a tanking with the loss of circa 10% of its value.

Whether it is raw materials for the UK steelmakers or imported steel this movement is dramatic adding circa £50 per tonne of price growth to steel with a typical price tag of £500 per tonne.

All shipping and road transport for deliveries to the UK are also Euro or US$ based, so this is again adding big additional costs to imported prices.

PRODUCT REVIEWS
The pricing dynamic by product are quite varied, so in this second section I have tried to give All Steels’ true view on how we see trade.

Merchant Bar
In the UK we are blessed with a good volume of domestic mills including Bromford Iron, Celsa UK, Liberty Merchant Bar, etc, but all these mills have the reverse benefit on exchange rates with a 10% sterling return gain on Euro selling prices.

Moreover, two of the most prolific producers of merchant bar in Europe (Beltrame Italy & LME France) are both on coronavirus lockdowns for manufacture and despatches. There are also many other small family merchant bar mills in southern Europe that are also known to be closed. This is creating a huge mainland European demand for our domestic mills whilst a hole is left in import supplies to the UK from Beltrame and LME. This has resulted in Celsa UK applying £50 per tonne of increases on deliveries this coming week (£25 per tonne on Monday 23-3-20 + £25 per tonne on Thursday 26-3-20). 

Our other domestic mills are also applying increases, but demand is really tight and providing demand holds up more dramatic increases seem inevitable. We also can’t rule out the risk of the domestic mills suffering the same fate as LME/Beltrame. The chances of the latter has to be high as it does not take too many key operatives to be absent for a mill / steel plant not to function.

Hollow Sections
There has been an abundance of hollow section availability with so many purchasers buying so heavily to beat EU Safeguards against the Turkish supply quota that got exhausted much quicker than anticipated in mid-February. Dock stocks do remain relatively high and All Steels also heavily front loaded to beat Safeguard quotas, but the holes are just starting to appear in our hollow sections stock range.

With no prospects of Turkish imports being possible until the new Safeguard quota window opens on the 1st July supply has to tighten up as we step through each month in Q2. It is also worthy of note that Italian imports will clearly become more difficult with the coronavirus constraints on both production and logistics. With respect to replacement prices out of Turkey current prices are high due to the weak value of the £, so domestic prices in the UK have to rise over the next three months, but this will be somewhat curtailed by an anticipated weakening in demand.

Structural Sections
This is another product where stocks have remained high in the UK as everyone bought heavily in anticipation of price increases pre-Christmas and then demand suddenly weakened. The price increases had all failed by the time we entered February, but two factors will come into play on forward supplies.

1. Virtually half the UK supply is satisfied by EU imports and the 10% devaluation of sterling against the Euro must end up being reflected on import prices.

2. Over the weekend ArcelorMittal has declared a force majeure on raw materials supplied to its European steel mills. This signals a strong message on the likelihood of further mill closures. The likes of Duferdofin Nucor, Italy’s largest section producer is already closed and more must follow. When one of these mills goes down it leaves a huge hole in the supply chain. When more than one mill goes on lockdown availability will become analogous to trying in vain to purchase a fair share of necessary toilet rolls from one of Britain’s supermarkets!

These are only All Steels’ views, which we have generally been asked to share. However, we hope this provides you with some useful guidance on what is most likely to unfold in these difficult business times.

Stay safe.

Best regards,

Laurence McDougall
Managing Director

All Steels' New Export Sales Director

We are delighted to announce that Lee White will assume the role of All Steels’ new Export Sales Director effective as from 1 April 2020.

Going forward Lee will naturally become even more focused on developing export sales primarily for All Steels, but also for our two main sister manufacturing businesses i.e. Special Steel Sections and Bromford Iron.

This is a very well-deserved All Steels promotion for Lee, and we are sure that our export customers in particular will also recognise that he has achieved this new All Steels executive board position as a result of his impressive ability to adeptly maintain and develop existing and new export sales accounts coupled with his unwavering enthusiasm, commitment and strong collaborative skills.

We trust you will all wish Lee all the very best in his new All Steels Export Sales Director role.

Bank of England Collaboration!

We are very pleased to report that All Steels’ Finance Director (Matthew Rhodes) has recently accepted an invitation to take part in a highly relevant and important Bank of England initiative!

The vote to leave the European Union is of course likely to have significant implications for the UK economic outlook and it will take time for those implications to become clear. In light of this, the Bank has launched a new Decision Maker Panel of finance directors from across industries and from around the UK.

The Decision Maker Panel of key/selected finance directors will have immediate policy relevance for:

1. Assessing the likely implications of the Brexit referendum on corporate decision making (for example investment and hiring) and hence the broader economic outlook.

2. Assessing the sectors, regions and firm types (for example small, young) most affected by uncertainty, where more immediate action to offer policy or institutional solutions may be required.

Naturally, All Steels is very appreciative of being given the opportunity via Matthew Rhodes to participate in/contribute to this significant new Bank of England initiative. It’s also always very nice to be especially recognised as being a strong and influential UK based international exporter of steel long products.

Santa Says 48 Days Left!

It’s certainly been a very exciting day here at All Steels because our large outside Christmas Tree is now up and beautifully adorned with its usual sparkling red & gold baubles! The tree’s many festive fairy lights, and including its large tree top star are all also shining very brightly too! We hope that all of our Thirsk neighbours will really enjoy seeing and sharing this seasonal sight with us throughout the next couple of winter months.



Can you believe that there’s now only 48 days left until Christmas Day 2019! However, All Steels feels it’s perfectly acceptable now to start getting into the festive spirit and sharing some good cheer all around! We’re sure that you will agree our wonderful 2019 Christmas Tree is a very pretty sight to behold, and one that will no doubt put a smile on your face too each time you pass by it.

With special thanks to Freddie (our Credit Controller Emily’s little boy) who officially picked out our tree this year. It’s never that easy picking the perfect shape, height plus a truly straight looking Christmas Tree is it, so what a truly great job he did?!

Freddie understands that there are no presents under the tree yet because Santa only delivers presents on Christmas Eve and of course only to those who have been good all year!

AST's Acquisition of Bromford Iron & Steel

All Steels Trading is delighted to announce that we have recently completed the acquisition of Bromford Iron & Steel in West Bromwich.

With a history spanning well over 200 years, Bromford Iron & Steel has a widespread and highly positive reputation as being a leading producer of hot rolled long products. Its rolling mills currently employ 38 people at the Oldbury site where activity in iron and steel processing can be traced back as far as 1610. The company has benefitted from regular and extensive investment in new plant and technology to ensure that Bromford’s product quality, flexibility and ability to produce small tonnages notoriously matches world best standards.

As well as being a leading producer of hot rolled steel profiles for horseshoe manufacture, the company is a major supplier to other sectors including oil and gas and chain-making. In addition to Bromford’s standard and non-standard range of flat bars and sections, the business specialises in producing tailor made hot rolled profiles for countless applications that can eliminate time, labour and expensive machining costs. Bromford also provides a number of secondary steel processing services such as pickling and oiling, cold side straightening and heat treatment.

The exciting acquisition of Bromford Iron & Steel offers excellent synergy with All Steels Trading's other UK steel related businesses, but especially with our Wolverhampton-based Special Steel Sections re-rolling mill. As a bulk international steel trader, we have the critical mass to obtain extremely competitive raw materials prices and these price savings will inevitably enable Bromford to sustainably grow and fulfil capacity.

This major acquisition also confirms All Steels Trading's commitment to supporting and investing in traditional British industries, and safeguarding a significant number of UK jobs. We believe British companies in this industry sector are more than capable of not just supporting domestic steel requirements but successfully competing on the world stage – and the support of All Steels Trading and our duo of UK steel manufacturing companies will no doubt help Bromford to successfully continue to do just that.

Bromford's mill number 1 cooling bed is shown in the image displayed directly below.


All Steels' Build Project is on Target!

All Steels is delighted to report that the construction of our new dedicated 300,000+ square foot warehouse at Groveport is now well underway!

The exciting new All Steels warehouse project build is scheduled to be completed on target, so we’re confidently aiming to have literally all of our circa 40,000 tonnes of steel housed inside our new purpose-built warehouse at Groveport by the end of November 2019! All Steels’ new warehouse at Groveport will have the added benefit of direct quay access and the use of four fully automated large overhead cranes, thus bolstering All Steels’ already highly renowned ability to provide our customers with short delivery lead-times and excellent value for money.

It’s also great to report that as you might expect All Steels’ new warehouse at Groveport is being built of a steel frame structure wherein, All Steels has supplied a significant part of the quality steel products required for this multi-million-pound new warehouse build. We’ll certainly keep you updated with the continued timely progress of this exciting All Steels 2019 warehouse building expansion project.


All Steels' new expanded warehouse building project at Groveport

Multi-million Pound Expansion!

PD Ports/AST's Multi-million-pound Warehouse Expansion!



PD Ports has announced a multi-million-pound investment at Groveport in partnership with one of Europe’s fastest growing international steel traders and long-standing customer, All Steels Trading.

This new long-term contract represents the largest single investment in the last decade at Groveport and signifies the next step in PD Ports’ growth strategy as the Port gears up for further expansion to support its growing reputation as the UK’s market leader for handling long steel products.

Construction on the new six-month build programme, which offers direct quay access, started in March and will see All Steels Trading’s footprint at Groveport expand from 166,000 sq. ft to over 300,000 sq. ft.

Once operational, PD Ports’ skilled and experienced team will handle, store and prepare the steel trader’s products ensuring they are available on demand; bolstering All Steels Trading’s customer commitment to short delivery lead-times and value for money.

Laurence McDougall, All Steels Trading Managing Director believes the partnership with PD Ports works because of the unique working relationship.

“PD Ports understands what we need to keep our customers on track, it’s an invaluable partnership. Having the ability to centralise all of our operations at Groveport enables us to deliver an unrivalled service for our customers, reaffirming our market position as the number one choice for long steel products in the UK.

“There is no other port in the UK that can offer the unique combination of capacity, infrastructure and exceptional service levels that we require. This new facility will streamline our entire business model.

“We often have to respond quickly to fluctuations in demand and knowing we can rely on PD Ports to handle, store and have our steel products available on demand adds real strength to our customer offer in terms of efficiency and value for money.”

Geoff Lippitt, PD Ports’ Group Business Development Director, sees this new contract as a further testament to the Company’s steel handling expertise and highly regarded reputation for deliverable logistics services.

“We are incredibly proud to have further strengthened our long-standing relationship with All Steels Trading as UK port of choice beyond 2035.

“The length of the contract with All Steels Trading shows a true partnership and demonstrates the trust and confidence the Company has in our market knowledge and our ability to understand as well as respond to their needs.

“Our skills and experience complemented by our central UK location for transport distribution to key UK steel processing sites and backed by a dedicated haulage fleet has positioned Groveport as the UK’s market leader for handling long steel products.

“We have seen transformational change in the global steel industry in recent years which has brought challenges but also real opportunity for some of our customers and we are continuing to invest and support that customer growth.”

https://youtu.be/3XYJ-M4y2RI

Final Day Made in Steel 2019!

It's the final day of Made in Steel 2019.  The All Steels Milan exhibition team has certainly enjoyed meeting up already, at this three day international trade fair, with an interesting plethora of fellow steel aficionados!  It's still not too late to come and visit the All Steels exhibition booth.  We're conveniently located in Hall 22, Stand I15.  See you here soon!