EU HRC market sees limited acceptance of higher prices as mills hold strong

Transactional activity remained low in the EU HRC market Sept. 7 because of high buyer stock levels and a wait-and-see sentiment from distributors.

Prospects for demand recovery were cautiously positive on the day, however, as some smaller buyers had already returned to the market for deals at limited tonnages.

“Big customers don’t mind waiting — their inventories are strong — but some smaller customers are in urgent need of material and are willing to pay these higher prices,” a trader source said.

Indeed, discounts on the new Eur800/mt offer level, ex-works Ruhr, were heard as no longer available on the day, with the tradable range moving up in kind. A trader source said requests to book additional tonnages, settled at Eur760/mt in the week ended Sept. 2, were no longer accepted by the receiving mill.

S&P Global Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe up Eur20/mt Sept. 7 at Eur790/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Mill sources generally reported a firm Eur800/mt ex-works offer and tradable level, with the lowest sell-side indication heard at Eur780/mt ex-works Northern Europe on the day.

Distribution sources expected to achieve prices of Eur780-800/mt ex-works Ruhr and Northern Europe, with small tonnage deals reported at Eur790-800/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Buyers were reported as reluctant to accept higher prices, but mills seem to be holding strong in refusing to further discount volumes, instead preferring to reduce output.

“Mills aren’t giving new offers this week or extending availability of last week’s offers — all in the hope of changing the direction of the market,” a trader source said.

Import offers into Northern Europe were heard higher on the day, with some deals booked at Eur720-725/mt CIF Antwerp ex-Far East.

In Italy, reported prices also moved higher, with most reporting the Eur760/mt ex-works level as gone, or limited to special deals for high tonnages.

Market participants reported the tradable range as circulating Eur780/mt ex-works Italy on the day, rising alongside import prices.

While new import offers were yet to solidify in the market, trader sources expected Far Eastern mills to raise prices to Eur700-710/mt CIF Italy.

Platts assessed domestic hot-rolled coil in Italy up Eur15/mt Sept. 7 at Eur780/mt ex-works. Import HRC was up Eur5/mt on the day, at Eur700/mt CIF South Europe.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven