EU market weighs alternatives to risky HRC imports

North European HRC prices continued to stabilize Jan. 11 as participants cautiously assess the pricing reality of a swiftly accelerating market, with buyers losing interest in higher import prices amid shorter lead times from domestic mills, sources told S&P Global Platts.

With the Christmas slow period on its way out, majority of EU steelmakers and buyers have been holding back from trading so far for 2022 and adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

A German trader expressed concern of higher import prices on overall transactional activity and profit.

“We are seeing local mills now fully booked, they are benefitting from the closure of imports, this is diminishing international trade,” he said.

There was hope demand could improve on a sustained basis following talks of an easing in the semiconductor shortage.

“It will depend what happens with the semiconductor issue, will larger levels soon be demanded, we don’t know.”

Imported material was quoted from Egypt at Eur790/mt CIF, with buyers reporting higher prices from nearer European origins, ranging Eur840-850/mt CIF, sources told S&P Global Platts.

A Nordic buyer source talked of an increase in interest following the Christmas slump, though awaiting any official offers.

“With the heavy influx of inquires we are seeing come through this week, we are optimistic on outlook for Q1,” the source said.

Platts assessed North European HRC prices stable at Eur925/mt ex-works Ruhr and in Southern Europe, prices decreased by Eur1/mt to Eur835/mt EXW Italy Jan. 11.

— Catherine Brown