EU HRC prices stable as buyers question price sustainability

Domestic prices for hot-rolled coil in Europe have been fairly stable on Feb. 1 as buyers have been showing doubt about the sustainability of the prices.

Import offers have increased in Europe after Asian mills returned from Lunar New Year holidays, supporting domestic prices in the EU. In addition, domestic mills have full order books for the first-quarter rolling coil and they have been in no hurry to give discounts for the second-quarter production material.

Buyers, however, have been uncertain that the positive trend would continue due to combination of limited end-user demand from some industries, such as construction, availability of competitive import from stocks in Europe and anticipated increase of availability. After three European steelmakers confirmed the restart of blast furnaces in Spain, Finland and Slovakia, market participants have been waiting for return of other equipment idled in 2022.

“Market is more relaxed as peak of restocking ended and now we see signals that prices are likely to soften in the second quarter,” a German service center said.

“On one hand, I think that prices are stable with some tendency to increase further as industries, including automotive, are showing reasonable activity,” a German distributor said. “This will support remaining automotive negotiations of course. On the other hand, when I hear that some EU mills restarted idled furnaces, scheduled or not, I am worried. I doubt that the additional capacities are needed in the market now. As a consequence, if things are running bad, mills will get pressure to sell their available capacity and we all know well which impact that will have on prices.”

Platts assessed domestic prices for hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe at Eur755/mt ex-works Ruhr on Feb. 1, stable day on day.

Tradable values have been reported at Eur750-760/mt ex-works Ruhr and offers at Eur780/mt ex-works Ruhr.

The assessment for imported hot-rolled coil in the region was Eur735/mt CIF Antwerp, reflecting offers from Asia reported at Eur730-740/mt CIF Antwerp.

Platts assessed domestic prices for hot-rolled coil in South Europe at Eur740/mt ex-works Italy on Feb. 1, down by Eur5/mt on day.

Deals have been reported at Eur730-740/mt ex-works Italy, tradable value at Eur740/mt ex-works and offers at Eur760-770/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Maria Tanatar, Laura Varriale