European HRC market at ‘standstill’ as mills resist discounting offers

Steelmakers kept offers firm in the European hot-rolled coil market Feb. 10, unwilling to drop prices toward buyers’ relatively stable idea of tradable value.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northern Europe stable on the day, at Eur765/mt ex-works Ruhr.

While offers in the market remain fairly steady at Eur780-800/mt ex-works Ruhr and Northern Europe – with mills widely heard as attempting to establish prices of Eur800/mt ex-works Ruhr – buyers remain unwilling to pay higher prices having restocked substantially in December-January.

“The coil market is quite confusing at the moment, there were a lot of deals in January which generated strong orderbooks for the mills,” a distributor said. “The market has slowed down now, but the mood is still positive it seems.”

“Mills are clearly aiming higher at Eur800/mt ex-works, but nothing has been booked at these prices yet,” the source added. “Higher import offers give argument to the mills that they should increase domestic prices, but we haven’t really seen a positive turn in demand.”

Buyers generally considered prices of around Eur750-770/mt ex-works Ruhr as workable, with distributors seeing tradable value lower on poor interest.

“Very strange market at the moment,” said a trader source. “I think once this restocking period is over, and in my opinion, it already is, demand is going to be poor.

“You have to be really competitive on prices to get something going.”

Another distributor characterized the market as at a “standstill.”

In the Italian market, buyers were heard as bidding at around Eur740/mt ex-works Italy, though distributors did acknowledge tradable value as higher at around Eur750-770/mt ex-works Italy.

Mill sources confirmed the levels, reporting deals at Eur760-770/mt ex-works Italy.

Platts assessed Italian HRC up Eur10/mt on the day, at Eur755/mt ex-works Italy.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar