European HRC distributors lament poor sales prices, volumes

The European hot-rolled coil market was quiet Nov. 25 as buyers surveyed cheaper offers, watching for the price floor.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe stable Nov. 25 at Eur605/mt ex-works Ruhr.

A service center source heard offers at Eur620/mt EXW, with the transactional level considered closer to Eur600/mt EXW. Cheaper offers were also heard on a delivered basis ex-Italy at Eur600/mt.

A distributor also heard offers at Eur610-620/mt delivered Ruhr ex-Northern Europe.

Buyers were said to be watching for the bottom of the market, unsure whether the floor had yet been reached.

While there was some pickup in transactional activity in the week ended Nov. 19, some attributed this more to having waited to the last minute to fill gaps for January 2023 than any substantive restocking, with no identified recovery in distributors’ sales prices or volumes to end-consumers.

“We’ve started to call each other to make sure the phones are still working,” said one German distributor. “It is absolutely dead.”

The Italian market seemed to be performing better, with some smaller tonnage deals heard at Eur610/mt EXW Italy.

Market participants were skeptical whether the recently attempted price increase from one Italian mill to Eur650/mt EXW Italy would hold, with a mill source doubtful unless other producers supported the increase.

Higher prices were heard for the first quarter even beyond the Eur650/mt mark, with one producer apparently targeting Eur700/mt EXW moving into next year.

After volumes in the tens of thousands of metric tons moved at sub-Eur600/mt EXW in the week ended Nov. 19, expectations were that orderbooks were largely filled for December-January but that lower prices could still be available to fill remaining gaps.

Platts assessed HRC in Italy stable on the day at Eur600/mt EXW.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven