European HRC activity quiet amid slow comeback to market

The European hot-rolled coil market showed little activity in the last stretch of the summer holiday period with market participants assessing possible movements in the next weeks, sources told S&P Global Platts Aug. 20.

The Italian market is expected to come back over the course of the week beginning Aug. 23 but sources said it would be unclear how much demand would pick up initially.

“Stocks are increasing, sales are going down, prices are falling. We have to be careful that stocks don’t grow too fast, we decided to buy as little as we can and keep our selling prices,” said a German stockholder.

The source reiterated previous comments from market participants that increasingly more factors would point towards an easing of material tightness in the HRC market with the restart of Salzgitter’s blast furnace that had been out since 2019, while HBIS Group Serbia Iron & Steel (formerly Zelezara Smederevo) also said they would go back to a two blast furnace operation later this year.

Workable levels were heard in the Eur1100-1150/mt EXW Ruhr range and at Eur1020-1050 EXW Italy.

The Platts daily assessment for Northern Europe dropped by Eur5/mt to Eur1140/mt EXW Ruhr, while the Southern European assessment dropped by Eur5/mt as well to Eur1040/mt EXW Italy Aug. 20.

Another buy-side source said most in the distribution sector would still be on holiday or coming slowly back to the market in Northern Europe and that first talks with mills showed little price move expectations for the coming weeks. A UK steel service center source said however that one European mill said it would raise prices in September for January shipment.

The import market for HRC was heard quiet, but a Russian offer was heard into the UK market at GBP 930-940/mt DDP West Midlands for October shipment.

— Laura Varriale