EU HRC buyers hold mixed expectations on potential price floors

The EU HRC market remained in a wait-and-see mode June 13 with demand muted as buyers gauged approaching price floors against relaxing downtrends in the import market.

S&P Global Commodity Insights assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe at Eur935/mt ex-works Ruhr June 13, down Eur5/mt on the day.

Trader sources talked about prices in a range of Eur900-950/mt EXW as workable in the quiet market, with latest deals heard at Eur940-950/mt EXW in the week ended June 11.

Conflicting opinions were heard on the price direction and the potential depth of pricing floors, with some expecting prices to slide further before threatening the sustainability of current production costs.

“Everyone is trying to figure out if prices are close to the bottom or not — market opinion is evenly split,” said a trader source. “Some believe there is still room to decline, while others see the bottom since import offers are stabilizing and buyers need to restock. Demand isn’t strong enough to give the market any real stability.”

Import offers to the Northern market were heard stable on the day from trader and service center sources, at Eur870-880/mt CFR Antwerp ex-Asia.

A second trader agreed on the wait-and-see sentiment across the market.

“The market is still waiting. We need production cuts, or at least announcements to that effect,” said the trader. “The future is gloomy what with the automotive situation and risks present in the current market.”

Despite broad expectations to the contrary, mills are yet to announce any cuts to production beyond regular maintenance periods.

In the Southern market, HRC was down Eur5/mt on the day, assessed at Eur870/mt EXW Italy on source indications of Eur860-880/mt as a workable range.

Competitive import offers were heard below Eur800/mt CFR Italian ports ex-India for boron-added material, with commodity-grade import offers heard slightly higher at Eur800-830/mt CFR.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar