EU HRC in waiting game, price softens on muted demand

The EU HRC market softened slightly April 26 as buyers remained in wait-and-see mode, and sources denied expectations of a market correction, seeing prices as largely stable in the near-term.

HRC in Northern Europe was assessed down Eur5 on the day at Eur1,305/mt ex-works Ruhr. HRC in Italy was down Eur10 at Eur1,240/mt ex-works Italy.

Sources reported muted demand, describing the market as waiting for prices to stabilize before restocking.

One distributor source said the situation was a “waiting game,” with mills and buyers standing off on mutually high inventories.

“Everyone has the power to wait just now but it can’t last much longer – stock levels won’t last forever,” the source said. “Some end-users have already waited too long and are having to pay sky-high prices from stock for their project needs. Stockholders are going to see high profits.”

Mill sources reported low demand but expected buyers to return in the coming weeks for third-quarter orders.

“Demand is still much reduced — we’ve seen some cancellations from the automotive sector, so we aren’t struggling with capacity. We aren’t pushing to sell but can answer requests for quotations in comparison to a few weeks ago,” said one mill source.

Another mill source agreed: “Demand is expected to be stronger in the coming weeks when EU customers need to restock.”

A trader source predicted buyers as relenting first due to depleting stock levels.

“Buyers and mills are waiting but distributors have been dealing from stock – I think we’ll see buyers return to the market to restock before mills face the need to drastically reduce prices to bring up demand,” the source said

— Benjamin Steven