EU HRC buyers limit purchases as concerns grow about capacity restarts

European hot-rolled coil buyers kept traded volumes to a minimum as per their requirements Dec. 5, as demand remained low and concerns grew regarding capacity restarts.

Real demand remained poor with prices supported by production cuts implemented across the EU in the second half of 2023.

Several mills, including ArcelorMittal’s Bremen and Salzgitter in Germany, and Tata Steel’s in the Netherlands, halted their operations because of low demand.

“The price rise was driven by [an] artificial shortage and not by real demand,” a service center source in Germany said. “And the situation will not change next year.”

As some of those steelmakers plan to restart their idled blast furnaces, buyers grew uncertain about demand being strong enough to absorb additional volumes and to support prices.

A source reported deals at Eur670-680/mt ex-works Ruhr. The information was not widely confirmed in the market and sources estimated tradable values at Eur680-710/mt EXW Ruhr.

Steelmakers, in the meantime, have been offering at Eur720-730/mt EXW Ruhr.

Platts assessed the price of domestic HRC in Northwest Europe down Eur10 on the day at Eur680/mt EXW Ruhr Dec. 5.

Mills remained bullish as they had no volumes left to offer for January shipment and a lack of competitive imports also supported the sentiment.

Asian exporters redirected export tonnages to the US because of higher domestic prices in the country, keeping the number of offers in the EU low. Additionally, longer lead times deterred the majority of European buyers from considering imports.

Import offers were reported at Eur630-640/mt CIF Antwerp for February shipment.

Platts assessed the price of imported coil in NWE stable at Eur640/mt CIF Antwerp.

In southern Europe, offers for domestic HRC were reported at Eur680-720/mt delivered Italy, with deals heard at Eur670-680/mt delivered Italy.

Platts assessed the price of domestic HRC in southern Europe down Eur10 on the day at Eur665/mt EXW Italy Dec. 5.

Author Rituparna Nath, Maria Tanatar