European HDG market sees softening, auto sector uncertainty

The European hot-dip galvanized sheet steel market was relatively stable Jan. 12 with little purchasing activity heard as buyers took a step back from inquiries while the lack of automotive demand resulted in more available steel volumes. Prices were heard to be mostly stable, though some buyers were skeptical about a price decrease, suggesting that mills were keen to keep prices high.

Sources remain hopeful demand could improve on a sustained basis following talks of an easing in the semiconductor shortage.

“Mills are not offering yet for Q2 so it is too early to say, the automotive industry might recover,” a Nordic buyer said.

The source also noted a softening in demand as buyers take a wait-and-see approach to determine the viability of ever-changing prices.

Since the last few days, some market participants were expecting uptake from import material to slow on account of increasing protectionist measures, with a lot of material waiting at Italian ports.

An Italy trader source said that although imports were looking less attractive, prices were not likely to fall.

“Prices will not decrease, energy and raw material costs are too high to do so,” an Italian trader said. “European mills will reduce production before lowering price.”

Platts assessed North European HDG prices stable at Eur1100/mt ex-works Ruhr and in Southern Europe, prices softened by Eur5/mt to Eur1075/mt ex-works Italy.

— Catherine Brown