EU HRC buyers slow purchases as they await further price corrections

Buyers of European hot-rolled coil prices slowed their deal conclusions Feb. 19 amid healthy inventory levels as they await further price corrections.

“People are reluctant to buy now with the risks of price decrease [in the near term],” an Italy-based source said. “As soon as the mills started to decrease prices the market froze, as there is no clarity on where the price will bottom out and they do not want to risk it.”

Some market participants were of the view that mills may have to either trim output, despite the recent restart of idled blast furnaces, or reduce prices as buyers remained reluctant to book tonnages now and add to existing inventories.

“The demand is very weak now,” said a German service center source. “Our stocks are good for the second quarter now so we think in the next quarter the demand may not be that good.”

Deals were heard in Northwest Europe at Eur720-730/mt ex-works Ruhr. Tradable values were also estimated at Eur720-730/mt EXW Ruhr. Offers were reported at Eur735-750/mt EXW Ruhr.

Platts assessed the price of domestic HRC in Northwest Europe stable on the day at Eur725/mt EXW Ruhr Feb. 19.

Interest in imports remained dull due to longer lead times and concerns about the volumes that will be allocated under safeguard quota for Q2.

Cargoes arriving in April-May were heard offered at Eur670-680/mt CIF Antwerp. No bids or deals were heard.

Platts assessed the price of imported HRC in Northwest Europe stable on the day at Eur649/mt CIF Antwerp Feb. 19.

Offers of HRC in Italy have been reported at the Eur720-725/mt EXW Italy and tradable values were at Eur720/mt EXW Italy.

Platts assessed domestic prices for HRC in South Europe unchanged on day at Eur720/mt EXW Italy Feb. 19.

Platts assessed prices imported HRC in the region up by Eur15/mt on day to Eur635/mt CIF Italy Feb. 19.

The assessment was based on deals heard for the material from Japan settled in Italy at Eur635/mt CIF Italy.

Offers of HRC from Vietnam have been reported at Eur615/mt CIF Italy, buyers showed limited interest in the market due to long lead times and Platts excluded in from the assessment as delivery exceeded the methodology.