EU HRC negotiations move lower on bearish turn, competitive import offers

European HRC was stable April 28 — sources reported prices as on a downtrend in the slow market, driven by competitive import offers and withheld demand.

In northern Europe, the hot-rolled coil price remained stable on the day, assessed at Eur1290/mt ex-works Ruhr.

A service center source reported deals from week ended April 22 at Eur1300/mt – though saw current achievable prices as lower at Eur1250-1260/mt.

A mill source heard deals on the day at Eur1300-1320/mt, with most deals concentrated at the Eur1300/mt level.

The source reported an increase in the HRC-slab spread from Eur100/mt to Eur200-250/mt – considering Eur1050/mt as a feasible end-point for the current downtrend based on estimated slab prices at Eur800 CFR Northern Europe. Demand remained as reduced as buyers observe the bearish turn.

“In general there’s a clear downward trend – mills and buyers are both holding back from trading waiting to see who will give first,” said source. “It’s seeming the mills will have to concede and prices will continue dropping. The only issue is production costs – energy, logistics and raw materials are all driving costs much higher.”

A trader source agreed – “Northern mills are keeping their offer levels steady, telling customers the prices are strong, but gaps in their production will force prices down. Prices in the South are softening more quickly, but still aren’t comparable to imports.”

Sentiment in the Southern market was much the same, with one mill source describing muted demand.

“No one is willing to buy, instead waiting for domestic prices to drop while monitoring falling import offers.”

A service center source confirmed expectations of further downtrend.

“The Italian market approached the end of April with minimal volumes traded – market price was unclear. What is clear is the trend – downward across Europe. End users stopped purchasing but have continued to produce and so will need material soon in contrast to distributors who have sufficient stock. The mills will need to fill orderbooks and compete with falling import prices – the price has to come down.

HRC in Italy was also assessed stable at Eur1200/mt ex-works.

Import offers from India were heard on the day at Eur980/mt CFR, Eur1030-1040/mt CFR ex-South Korea and Japan, and Eur1100/mt CFR Italian ports ex-Turkey, anti-dumping duties included.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar