Steel price initiatives faltered at Wire & Tube 2024

29th April 2024

European steel manufacturers met opposition to their attempts to reverse the current downward price trend at the Dusseldorf Wire and Tube Fair.

Nevertheless, European flat and long producers, who either introduced or raised the possibility of list price hikes during the five-day exhibition, may have been partially successful in their ambitions.  

It is likely that the measures could be enough to prevent further price erosion. 

Key steel industry stakeholders travelled to the German expo event against a backdrop of falling prices across the continent. 

As exhibitors and visitors arrived in Dusseldorf, talk centred on ArcelorMittal’s move to raise all commodity grade long steel prices by EUR20 per tonne across Europe, which was effective immediately for all new orders.

It was apparent that Europe’s long product buyers had little appetite to pay more for the material, given the poor trading conditions. However, ArcelorMittal’s move was enough to influence the psychology of buyers.

‘Intensive’ face-to-face discussions 

Intensive face-to-face discussions were held, most notably on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the fair. Nevertheless, MEPS understands that by the end of the week, few deals were completed at the higher price levels.  

There may have been little price movement over the course of the five days, but this only tells half the story. 

It was noted that Monday was a quiet affair. One MEPS respondent referred to it as a “meet and greet”.  

There was a buzz around the stands of the major steelmakers on the Tuesday and Wednesday. Nevertheless, it was clear that little headway was being made by sellers aiming to raise their prices.  

MEPS analysts, who attended the Wire and Tube event at Messe Dusseldorf, reported that a lack of demand was the major obstacle to any price recovery. Market demand was low in the first quarter of 2024 and most regional service centres are only buying what they need, and not restocking.

There are few bright spots in end-user activity. With the exception of the energy and military related segments, most steel-consuming sectors remain in the doldrums.  

“Fight for survival” 

The geopolitical situations in Ukraine and the Middle East add layers of uncertainty.  

Economic worries remain. Increased interest rates – introduced in an attempt to combat inflationary pressures – are likely to have peaked. Nevertheless, many private projects have either been delayed or shelved entirely due to the high cost of finance.  

It remains unclear when steel users will garner any benefit from interest rate reductions, with many Central Banks delaying cuts until later in the year.  

Many MEPS respondents privately conceded in face-to-face discussions that the second quarter would be a “fight for survival”. The outlook for the second half of 2024 is far from certain. The most pessimistic of fair observers believed that little improvement in demand is expected until 2025.  

There were a lot of smiles and handshakes as the steel industry gathered in Dusseldorf. However, this failed to mask the current concerns surrounding the European steel market. 

European Steel Review image


European Steel Review

The MEPS European Steel Review is an informative, concise and easy-to-use monthly publication, offering unique professional insight into European carbon steel prices.

Go to productRequest a free publication