European buyers avoid HRC bookings despite lower prices from the mills

Major European steelmakers were ready to accept lower prices for domestic hot-rolled coil Feb. 23 to draw interest from buyers who were avoiding restocking and were focused on back-to-back trade of smaller volumes.

Buyers, however, remained reluctant to restock due to sufficient inventories and limited end-user demand.

A major German steelmaker with significant exposure to automotive contracts were reported at Eur720/mt delivered Ruhr for May shipment material, which market sources estimated as an equivalent to Eur700/mt ex-works Ruhr.

“Spot prices are getting lower, but it seems that the mills ready to sacrifice prices to get volumes,” a mill source said. “They settled long-term contracts at prices they wanted and the mills might look at average prices – long term and spot and have positive figures in the quarter.”

A smaller German mill offered at Eur720-730/mt ex-works Ruhr for April shipment cargoes. Tradable values were estimated at Eur700-730/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Tradable values have been heard at Eur700-730/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Platts assessed the price of domestic hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe stable on day at Eur715/mt ex-works Ruhr Feb. 23.

Market sources expected steel demand in the second quarter to not be softer than what has been witnessed in Q1.

Owing to weak demand, some market participants also anticipated mills to trim output by idling some blast furnaces soon. However, others believed prices will bottom out soon as lack of imported material can aid domestic sentiment.

Longer lead times and geopolitical conditions dampened appetite for seaborne material along with concerns that safeguard quotas may get exhausted within the first week of April after being declared for Q2. In addition, the European authorities are expected to prolong safeguard measures for two more year – until mid-2026 following the ongoing review. As buyers remained uncertain if any changes in quotas would be included in the updated measures they remained cautious with booking for Q3 arrival.

No offers were heard for imported HRC in Northwest Europe but tradable values for Asian material were estimated at Eur640/mt CIF Antwerp.

Platts assessed the price of imported HRC in Northwest Europe stable on the day at Eur650/mt CIF Antwerp Feb. 23.

In South Europe, tradable values were estimated at Eur700-720/mt ex-works Italy. Mills made offers at Eur715-720/mt ex-works Italy.

Platts assessed the price of domestic HRC in South Europe stable on the day at Eur710/mt ex-works Italy Feb. 23.

Tradable value for imported HRC in South Europe was heard at Eur620/mt CIF Italy for Asian HRC. Import offers for July delivery cargoes were reported at Eur600-640/mt CIF Italy from Japanese, Vietnamese mills for late June-July arrival.

Platts assessed the price of imported HRC in South Europe down Eur4/mt on the day at Eur620/mt CIF Italy Feb. 23.

Author Maria Tanatarmaria.tanatar@spglobal.comRituparna