EU mills capitalize on desperate buyers, import popularity reignites

EU mills edged offer levels higher in response to perceived “panic-buying” March 17, as the import market saw a rise in activity, sources said.

Trading in northern Europe continued with a large spread, depending on the buyer’s position in the market and established relationship with mills.

Deals were heard on the day at Eur1,500/mt from several mills, though a mill source characterized these trades as “panic-buying” by those exposed on the spot market.

Near-term mill offers were heard as high as Eur1,600/mt for the week beginning March 21.

For those with stronger mill relationships or existing contracts, deals were heard lower – as low as Eur1,350/mt. One service center source reported Eur1,400/mt as a “price barrier,” saying the new ArcelorMittal HRC price at the same level acted as a “market benchmark.”

Import trade saw an increase in interest and activity on the day, with offers for HRC CIF Antwerp ex-India heard Eur50-70 higher following the proportional reallocation of EU safeguarding quotas to other exporters.

Offers and tradable value for HRC CIF Antwerp were heard around the Eur1,250-1,270/mt range.

In southern Europe, deals heard on the day were focused around the Eur1,300-1,320/mt range, with prices under less pressure due to better availability of import offers.

One trader source reported import prices as moving quickly in response to “the lack of some raw materials, the price of scrap, and energy costs,” confirming sales from Turkey, Mexico, Korea and Japan.

In the Spanish market, the trader reported customers as “fighting for delivery of purchased material […] many mills are asking for a revision on prices due to the increase in freight costs.”

Platts assessed the TSI for HRC for Northern Europe up Eur50 on the day at Eur1,450/mt ex-works Ruhr, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights. HRC in Southern Europe was assessed Eur10 higher at Eur1,320/mt ex-works Italy.

— Benjamin Steven