EU HRC prices see little hope for traditional September revival

European hot-rolled coil prices remained stable Aug. 16 on minimal trade, although sentiments on price direction were uncertain.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe stable at Eur750/mt ex-works Ruhr Aug. 16.

Market participants saw tradable value was circulating around the Eur750/mt level. Only one service center source suggesting material could be available cheaper, citing a workable range at Eur740-750/mt ex-works Ruhr.

By way of contrast, a second service center source had not seen said lower levels in the market, instead reporting the lowest offers were received at Eur770/mt ex-works Ruhr.

This suggested a degree of uncertainty as to current price levels in Northern Europe, which was confirmed by a trader source in the day.

“Prices are questionable at the moment,” the trader said. “There have been some deals, but you can hardly judge the market on August trading. No one buys serious volumes and there is a clear lack of outlook at present.”

Previously, mills were heard withholding offers for late-fourth quarter, which was speculated as price protection, but the trader suggested that mills would now settle orders for November-December delivery at current spot prices, dampening bullish expectations for the near-term despite rising production costs.

“Mills are still trying to sell more volumes into the market, keeping the prices down, but demand isn’t really recovering in kind,” a third service center source Aug. 16.

A second trader agreed the sentiment, stating that prices could even fall below the current Eur750/mt stabilization point without much surprise from the market.

Buyers continued to avoid the import market, given ongoing uncertainties on price direction, especially since import and domestic prices were in close proximity when factoring in transportation and other related domestic costs.

In the Southern market, the Platts HRC assessment remained stable at Eur720/mt ex-works Italy on muted trading and demand.

A third trader reported prices of Eur700-740/mt as achievable depending on the buyer, while a fourth confirmed the Eur720/mt level was tradable, both basis ex-works Italy.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar