European hot-dip galvanized sheet steel prices softened Dec. 15 as automotive demand woes and the Christmas slowdown elicited a heightened sense of bearishness in the market, with mills and stockholders heard to be quietly handing out generous discounts to customers in need of material.
Market chatter surrounding the anti-dumping investigation into HDG imports from Turkey and Russia was also rife, with some participants expecting provisional measures to come into effect by the end of January, sources told S&P Global Platts.
A European mill source close to the anti-dumping investigation told Platts he expected the European Commission to “not delay” in implementing such measures by the end of next month. An Italy-based trader had also heard similar chatter in the Italian market.
A Turkish coated coil producer said there was an appointment scheduled with the EC in mid-January specifically for the investigation, and therefore did not expect the EC to officially communicate a decision before this meeting took place.
Platts previously reported that provisional measures, if any arise, are expected to be imposed by the EC on Jan. 24, 2022.
With the Christmas slump nearing, mills have entered a risk management phase in anticipation of unclear Q1 demand.
“Mills are falling back into old habits – they are panicking and making discounts to keep lines running – asking customers to keep it quiet,” a European mill source lamented. “Hand-backs from automotive are still coming back in.”
Despite this, the mill source predicted a 5% increase in steel demand driven by the auto industry, though it was a “mixed picture” depending on the particular OEM and its material needs.
“Customers are waiting and holding off finalizing contracts, they think they can get a better price,” he added. “Those wanting to speculate could get a good deal for Q1 delivery but when demand kicks off they might be in trouble.”
There was a consensus around HDG auto contract pricing, with most sources quoting Eur1200-1250/mt delivered Europe for 2022.
— Amanda Flint