EU hot-rolled coil edges down, import pricing free-fall relaxes

Market participants in the EU hot-rolled coil market reported a slow-down in the recent pricing free-fall May 25 alongside a softening in downward pressure from the import market.

Hot-rolled coil in Northern Europe was down Eur5 May 25, assessed at Eur1,050/mt ex-works, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights data.

Both buy- and sell-side sources confirmed Eur1,050/mt ex-works as a tradable level for the day, although transactional activity remained muted against the recent pricing downtrend.

“There are no deals done in the market now – but buyers are starting to realize they’ll need to make bookings,” a trader source said.

Sources continued to indicate buyers to return to the market in June to reserve material for the September period.

“June should bring some movement in the market as buyers will finally need to book and plan for the post-summer period,” a second trader source said.

No import offers have been heard since India introduced new export duties, although sources expected new indications from foreign mills to be higher. Imported HRC into Northern Europe was assessed stable at Eur900/mt CIF Antwerp.

“Extremely cheap import offers are no longer available, while it may be too early to talk about a price rise, we’ll definitely see some kind of stabilization,” the same trader said.

A mill source agreed with the sentiment, expecting stabilization in the import market to present a price floor in the European market.

“The market is up and down, I’d expect new Indian duties to give a floor to pricing in the EU market, alongside [coronavirus] recovery in China, but demand uptick is still low,” the mill source said.

The source saw HRC prices hitting the pricing floor in the near-term, but stressed that potential natural gas stoppages from Russia and general inflation could influence a rebound in flat steel prices.

In the Italian market, import prices rebounded somewhat May 25, with some Indian mills heard to have suspended negotiations following the recent introduction of export duties.

Prices from Japan, alongside other Asian exporters, were heard higher on the day at $950-960/mt CFR Italian ports. A third trader reported mills were refusing lower pricing, preferring to cancel allocations to the bearish European market.

Indications for the domestic market remained relatively stable on day, with offers reported at Eur1,000/mt ex-works and sources regarded tradable values at Eur980-990/mt ex-works Italy.

Platts assessed HRC in South Europe stable on day at Eur990/mt ex-works Italy.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar