ArcelorMittal increases HRC offers in Europe as others expected to follow

ArcelorMittal has increased offers for hot-rolled coil across Europe as other mills have not been active in the market, and market participants expect them to also move prices up, sources told S&P Global Commodity Insights March 15.

ArcelorMittal has set new prices for June shipment coil at Eur870/mt ex-works Ruhr, up by Eur20-30/mt from previous offers.

Trading activity, in the meantime, remained limited as buyers have been holding back from acquiring bigger lots of coil. The reluctance to buy volumes was caused by uncertainty in price sustainability in the third quarter. European steelmakers have been offering May-July shipment flat steel, indicating full order books.

The supply from both domestic and overseas mills has remained tight. European mills have full order books, equipment restarted in February-March has not reached necessary production rates, and technological issues at Tata Steel’s cold-rolling mill in the Netherlands contributed to the issue. Tata Steel Nederland invoked force majeure due to difficulties following its Cold Mill 21 upgrade, the steelmaker had said Feb. 24

“Situation at Tata Steel has a big influence in the market,” a steelmaker source said. “Their customers are now looking for alternative supply, but mills are not interested in selling spot, but they can offer any other longer-term arrangement.”

“There is lack of supply and offers both from European mills and imports,” a trader said.

As a result, buyers have been accepting higher prices only for small tonnages of specifications they needed to restock.

The further price recovery could be supported by such trading activity in the short run, but prices are expected to soften in the second half of summer, following the traditional market cycle, sources said.

“Customers are reluctant to buy,” another mill source said. “There is almost no interest in the commodity coil, but anything with higher added value is booked. But not big volumes. Some mills withdrew offers and are preparing to increase offers.”

Platts assessed domestic hot-rolled coil prices at Eur850/mt ex-works Ruhr March 15, up by Eur2.50/mt day on day.

The assessment was based on deals and tradable values reported at Eur840-850/mt ex-works Ruhr and offers heard at Eur870/mt ex-works Ruhr.

In South Europe, the assessment for domestic hot-rolled coil prices remained unchanged at Eur810/mt ex-works Italy March 15.

Deals have been heard at Eur800-810/mt ex-works Italy and tradable values at Eur800-820/mt ex-works. Offers were expected to rise to Eur850-870/mt ex-works Italy.

The number of import offers heard in the market has been limited, and the only material available from Asia was for delivery in late July-August. As a result, buyers have been holding back from overseas bookings.

Platts assessed prices for imported hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe at Eur780/mt CIF Antwerp March 15, up by Eur10/mt day on day. Offers of the material from Asia have been heard at Eur780-800/mt CIF Antwerp.

Platts assessed import prices for hot-rolled coil in South Europe up by Eur10/mt day on day to Eur770/mt CIF Italy March 15.

Material from Asia has been offered at Eur770-800/mt CIF Italy and from Egypt at Eur820/mt CIF Italy.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Maria Tanatar