Europe HRC prices supported by limited supply

Limited supply has kept European prices for steel hot-rolled coil elevated despite subdued buying, industry sources told Fastmarkets on Friday January 26.

In Northern Europe, prices continued to climb slowly, but traded volumes were still limited in the spot market.

“Buyers are booking only the volumes they absolutely need, to avoid building stocks,” a buyer source said.

Deals for domestically produced HRC in the region were heard at €750-770 ($815-837) per tonne ex-works, with most trades heard at the lower end of that price range.

Higher offers of €800-820 per tonne ex-works were still not being achieved in sales, according to market sources.

Lead times were mostly in April, but some producers could still offer March delivery, Fastmarkets heard.

Both producers and buyers agreed that the sharp price uptrend was driven by tight supply, while demand from all end-user sectors, except the automotive industry, was weak. Demand for steel from the automotive sector was also not booming, but rather was “stable at lower levels — not rising, but not declining either,” market sources said.

“We see that quite a few blast furnaces are still idled in Europe, [and] importing HRC is getting increasingly tricky. So far, these factors have helped mills to get higher prices [for coil],” a second buyer source said.

As a result, Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe at €751.25 per tonne on January 26, up by just €1.67 per tonne from €749.58 per tonne on Thursday January 25.

The index was also up by €7.25 per tonne week on week and by €55.75 per tonne month on month.

Fastmarkets calculated its corresponding daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Italy at €745 per tonne on Friday, up by €4 per tonne from €741 on the previous day.

The index was also up by €9.58 per tonne week on week and by €56.67 per tonne month on month.

Trading in the Italian market was also limited, and supply was limited as well, market sources said. This allowed local suppliers to secure higher prices in deals.

Transactions were reported at €745-750 per tonne ex-works in Italy on January 26.

Official offers were slightly higher, around €770-780 per tonne delivered (€755-765 per tonne ex-works) for March-/April-delivery HRC.

HRC offers from Indian and South Korean mills for April shipment were reported at €670-690 per tonne cfr Italy.

One Turkish supplier was offering HRC to Italy at €700 per tonne cfr, including anti-dumping duties.

Published by: Julia Bolotova