European HRC buyers prefer to hold back from trading

Steel hot-rolled coil buyers across Europe continued to hold back from restocking, despite recent price stabilization, citing slow sales and weak prices downstream, sources told Fastmarkets on Friday July 14.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe was calculated at €672.25 ($737.59) per tonne on July 14, down by €7.50 per tonne from €679.75 per tonne on July 13.

The latest calculation of the Northern European index was down by €9.75 per tonne week on week and by €19.63 per tonne month on month.

Continued slow trading and a “hand-to-mouth” approach to bookings from most buyers have prevented prices from rising.

“No restocking is happening [right now] — as opposed to the expectations we had in June, most buyers are only [interested in] small tonnages,” a mill source said.

Distributors and steel service centers reported very slow sales in the downstream markets, along with difficulties in getting end users to accept higher prices.

“We have to fight for every [single] euro increase with our customers, so obviously we do not see any room for HRC price rises,” a service center source in Germany told Fastmarkets.

Most buyers put the tradable value of HRC in Northern Europe at €660-680 per tonne EXW on Friday.

Mills in the region were aiming for around €680-700 per tonne EXW for September-October delivery coil, but the upper end of the range was not deemed workable by most buyer sources.

One trading source reported a sale of HRC from Central Europe to Germany at €670 per tonne delivered.

Meanwhile, offers for September-delivery HRC from Italy were reported at €710-720 per tonne CPT to Germany, with one buyer reporting a small-tonnage transaction at €700 per tonne CPT earlier this week.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Italy at €655 per tonne on Friday, unchanged from Thursday.

The Italian index was down by €7 per tonne week on week and by €1.13 per tonne month on month.

Trading was also quiet in Italy, where — despite recent reports of an uptick in demand — local buyers also preferred to only book small tonnages to cover their urgent needs.

“There has been a small improvement in apparent demand [for HRC], but buyers are aiming to restock at rock-bottom prices,” an Italian service center source said.

Official offer prices from local mills were reported €670-700 per tonne EXW for September delivery coil.

But buyers put the tradable level at €640-660 per tonne EXW, with transactions reported within that range.

Offers for September- to October-shipment HRC from Asia were heard at €590-630 per tonne CFR, with the lower end of the range reflecting offers from Vietnam.

Published by: Julia Bolotova