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Italy

The summer holiday period is approaching with great strides but the usual August market conditions appear to have arrived early this year. Since June, availability of stainless steel scrap seems to have become exhausted. Industrial production has slowed substantially and so availability of scrap has been significantly reduced, but a speculative approach appears to have been triggered among those holding scrap. The strangest aspect is that this attitude is also being adopted by the service centres, which also seem convinced that material prices must rise in September.

This attitude is unfair because it is creating difficulties for stainless steel mills in finding scrap for new production at a time when a shortage of coil orders has led to competition-related downward selling prices. It can certainly be said that, at present, there is the smallest differential between the selling price of coils and the price of scrap.

Other key features of the market include: an arrested descent in coil prices; growing imports of scrap from non-EU countries; potential for a production recovery in the final four months of the year; and a slight increase in scrap prices owing to shortages.

Although many are denying the economic recovery, signs of it are now becoming evident.