EU HRC mills target bullish offers due to healthy order books, buyers still on sidelines

European hot-rolled coil mills targeted bullish offers Jan. 4 due to healthy order books even though buyers remained on sidelines and were expected to return the coming week.

“The market is not active yet,” a German distributor said. “Business will get back to normal next week.”

Mills maintained an optimistic outlook after having closed some half-yearly contracts for HRC at target offer levels, while most have healthy order books up to February.

Market participants expected trading activity to pick up in the coming week as buyers return post holidays, although no tradable levels were heard during the day.

Mills offered domestic HRC at Eur745-750/mt ex-works Ruhr for March shipment.

Platts assessed the price of domestic hot-rolled coil stable on the day at Eur690/mt EXW Ruhr Jan. 4.

Interest for imported material remained lackluster as safeguard quotas for HRC in first quarter from other countries were exhausted. Buyers remained hesitant about storing material at the ports for the possibility of clearance in Q2 due to high costs.

According to data from the European Commission, HRC import volumes awaiting allocation from other countries have already exceeded the total quota at around 1.09 million mt, as of Jan. 3. Total EU safeguard quota for HRC imports from other countries stood at 923,594.27 mt for Q1.

“Smaller traders, stockists and service centers aim to buy less of imports this year to reduce risks,” a German distributor source said. “People are currently reluctant to conclude deals for imported material.”

No firm offers were heard for imported HRC during the day.

Platts assessed the price of imported HRC in Northwest Europe stable on the day at Eur650/mt CIF Antwerp Jan. 4.

Author Rituparna Nath