European HRC market more bearish on expectations of greater capacity

More European steel market sources are adopting a stronger bearish outlook on HRC price developments after the summer months, with domestic prices still stable Aug. 19. As more mills return from their maintenance periods and force majeure after the summer, and with automotive not expected to return with acute demand, prices could take a downturn, sources told S&P Global Platts.

More material was said to be available from mills, returning mills and imports, with large mills in Brazil and Serbia also heard to be offering into the EU after a quiet spell.

“The market is very quiet, and imports are a lot cheaper than they were in June – my feeling is that there will come some pressure and prices may decrease,” a European cold-roller source said.

How rapidly prices might fall still depends on the level of demand in the latter half of the year, though sources stood by their doubts about how strongly the automotive and construction sectors might rebound in September.

“Auto still has big problems with semiconductor and chip shortages. Our hope was that OEMs would have higher demand in the second half but [that] will be postponed to next year because of shortages of so many materials,” the same source said, adding that customers in other segments like construction don’t have enough staff.

In the Italian market, activity was quiet on the buy- and sell-sides, with most producers out for the entirety of August.

“The three weeks of August is closed for summer holiday and they have the big maintenance in the year. Consider that all the Italian companies are closed till end of this week,” an Italy-based trader told Platts.

— Amanda Flint