European HRC market moves higher amid low supply

European hot-rolled coil prices were heard higher in the market March 17, with most sources quoting theoretical prices due to the lack of available tonnage among mills. Mills were heard to be wrapping up bookings for Q3 and now looking at securing orders for Q4, sources told S&P Global Platts.

One European seller said despite the advice of his mill to not sell and preserve tonnage, he was still making small deals in order to maintain working relationships with his legacy customers.

“We have no binding contracts, so usually we’ll deliver 10,000 mt, but that’s now being cut by 90% to 1,000 mt,” the mill source said. “We don’t speak about prices.”

In the last few days, sources noted difficulty quoting workable prices that could be supported by tangible deals made in the market even as stockholders in Europe are desperate to replenish their inventories.

“I thought this trend wouldn’t last, but now it wont change until after July,” the mill source said.

Market participants were also staying away from imports given rising freight costs and a shortage on containers.

Import prices were heard at Eur755/mt CIF Antwerp from Vietnam and for CRC material heard at Eur930/mt FCA Antwerp.

“We don’t get any freight offers anymore. Even if you take the material immediately, depending on origin, you can’t be sure how it will get shipped,” a German trader said. “You cannot fix the ocean freight; nobody knows how this market will develop.”

In the Italian market, a service center source said price levels spoken about in the market were theoretical given the lack of supply and advocated for an easing on import restrictions.

“How can we [be] for restrictive measures for imports when the most important EU suppliers take so long for deliveries?” the source said.

— Amanda Flint