EU HRC market mulls mill closures, import prices slide

Hot-rolled coil in Northern Europe was stable June 22, while prices in South Europe moved down on import pressures.

Against source expectations, import prices were also heard lower on the day, triggered by sharp drops in the Chinese market.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northern Europe at Eur870/mt ex-works Ruhr, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Distribution sources agreed a tradable value range of Eur860-880/mt ex-works Ruhr, seen as achievable against offers reported at Eur870-880/mt ex-works Ruhr.

A large service-center source considered lower prices as achievable, reportedly targeting Eur850/mt ex-works Ruhr in ongoing negotiations.

In South Europe, prices fell Eur20/mt to Eur790/mt ex-works Italy, informed by indications of Eur780-800/mt ex-works Italy as a workable range. Offers were heard on the day at Eur800-820/mt ex-works Italy.

These estimations were reinforced by a deal heard from a Serbian mill, settled at Eur790/mt delivered to Italy.

Buy-side sources saw the pricing downtrend as continuing in the near term, with prices expected to fall to Eur750/mt ex-works Italy.

A deal for 30,000 of Indian boron-added HRC was reported at $765/mt CFR Italy, multiple sources reported that boron content has a limiting effect on the usability of the material, particularly for welding purposes.

“As far as I know, boron-added material is no problem for re-rolling,” said an influential trading source.

A producer from Japan was heard as offering hot-rolled coil at Eur750-760/mt CFR Italy, sourced through a European trader.

South Korean HRC has been offered at Eur780/mt CFR Italian ports, though import material is still regarded as unattractive to medium and smaller buyers due to long lead-times and uncertainties in the wider market.

Sources continue to report poor demand, with full inventories across supply-chains considered the primary factor.

Following ArcelorMittal’s announcement of two blast furnace closures in France and Germany, sources report that Central European mills are planning output cuts to minimize production levels – one steelmaker was heard as considering idling one of its three blast furnaces in the near-term.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar