EU HRC prices flat, Italy fears logistical issues from virus measures

European HRC prices were heard stable in the market Oct. 14 amid greater availability in the market, with buyers now suddenly able to purchase volumes for the fourth quarter.

In Southern Europe, market participants mentioned healthy demand amid rising stock levels, which would restore some balance to the supply chain. Italians were bracing themselves for possible transport issues, with the Italian Green Pass proof-of-vaccination document set to be enforced on Oct 15 sources told S&P Global Platts.

“On Oct. 1, material was customs cleared and now its all coming to the market,” a German distributor said. “Stock levels will go down because demand will pick up. Stockholders are reducing prices levels.”

The discrepancy between West and Eastern European HRC prices was also still a hot point of discussion, with one UK-based trader having heard of spot prices from Eastern producers between Eur800-900/mt. In West Europe, prices were heard between Eur1000-1040/mt delivered Europe, but the trader expects this price level to soon dip below Eur1,000/mt once automotive contracts are concluded.

With the European steel market now making room for carbon surcharges, ArcelorMittal confirmed they will incorporate a gas surcharge of Eur50/mt to be applied to all new price agreements. The new cost is expected to be withdrawn once energy prices resume to “normal levels,” the company said in a statement Oct 6.

While most market participants have come to terms with the new costs and have put structures in place to accommodate its new position in the overall cost structure, some sources have felt the move is too sudden.

“Mills should have been investing [in green steel] already. I think they should have done this years ago,” a Benelux buyer said. “But now carbon is a hot item.”

In the Italian market, HRC offer prices were heard at Eur995/mt ex-works Italy, with workable prices between Eur930-940/mt ex-works Italy.

With Italy’s ‘Green Pass’ set to be enforced by Oct 15, an Italian service center feared it would become more difficult for truck drivers to enter his premises for collections and deliveries.

Italy is set to become the first European country to require a digital or paper proof of vaccination, immunity or a negative test in the past 48 hours — known as the green pass. This will become mandatory in all public and private work spaces.

— Amanda Flint