European hot-rolled steel coil market seeing continued buying hesitancy

Buyers are continuing to meet steel mill offers with hesitancy across the European hot-rolled coil spot market amid bearish sentiment, sources told S&P Global Platts Sept. 15.

Trading remains quiet with only sporadic opportunities arising for mills to sell small volumes on the spot market.

A Northern European mill said they were seeing Eur1,180/mt EXW as the bottom price on the spot market and that they were achieving it at times.

Buy-side sources, however, put the widespread market value at Eur1,100/mt EXW Ruhr.

“There is more availability in the market, more import offers, material coming in, lack of auto intake,” said a German stockholder, adding that they are trying not to increase stock levels as inventory levels were growing faster than sales volumes going out to their customers.

Market participants remain bearish throughout Europe although – taking lower volume take up by the automotive industry aside — overall steel demand has not dropped at customer markets.

“Demand is not so bad, but prices are decreasing and every day we watch a little jump down…probably due to import from countries with free quota,” said an Italian service center source, referring to import sources from Asia and Northern Africa that have not reached the current quota limit.

The usual September uptick that occurs when the market returns from the summer holiday has failed to appear on the market so far and market activity on the spot market has been reduced to inquiries and observing the market while long-term contract negotiations are taking place.

“Everyone is back in the market, sentiment is the same as everywhere, so not very positive and buyers hesitant. I would say it is cautious but not softening and for the time being no chance for increase,” said a European trading source, putting indicative workable levels for Italy at Eur1,100/mt EXW and Ruhr at Eur1,100/mt EXW.

Other sources put tradable values for Italy at Eur1,030/mt EXW.

— Laura Varriale, Amanda Flint