European HRC market optimistic about higher prices

European HRC prices continue on an upward trend as more contract demand and bookings limited forward spot availability. Steel mills and service centers cited higher offers in both Northern and Southern Europe, fueled by rising raw material costs and decarbonization initiatives. Market participants believe end-user demand for steel from key consuming industries will pick up in the near term, with the exception of automotive.

In the Italian market, a service center source reported a pickup in daily demand alongside confirmed deals on the day, while Northern Europe had “weak” liquidity as buyers held too much stock given reduced project demand, a buyer source reported.

The spread between Northwest European and Italian ex-works HRC prices now stands at Eur80/mt on the day, as offers picked up more aggressively in Italy and the south of Europe. Leading South European mills plan to further increase headline offers up to Eur950/mt by as soon as next week, a distributor source added.

Lower steel production and higher-priced and limited imports further supported the market and new offers, a steel distributor source said.

Platts assessed North European HRC prices stable at Eur980/mt ex-works Ruhr and in Southern Europe prices were assessed at Eur900/mt ex-works Italy Feb. 10.

— Catherine Brown