European HRC market sees further price increases on horizon

European HRC prices were heard higher Jan. 17 with the market expecting an uptick in prices from domestic mills looking to support the leading European mill increase of around Eur30-50/mt.

However, some remained hesitant to make sudden moves amid continued pricing uncertainty.

The Platts daily Northern European HRC assessment increased Eur7/mt on the day to Eur932/mt EXW Ruhr Jan. 17, while the Southern European assessment also went up Eur7/mt to Eur844/mt EXW Italy.

A German mill source said the automotive industry was becoming more active across Europe, however there is a concern that increased buying interest could potentially cause material demand to outpace supply.

“The semiconductor shortage is the biggest problem, we now have to prepare for the a possible demand increase that is far from current supply levels,” the source said.

A German distributor expressed concern over an estimated Eur70-80 spread between contract price and spot prices.

“I think mills are moving too fast, it is currently very unclear where prices actually stand, we need more transactional activity for full transparency,” the source said.

In the Italian market, there is little appetite to commit to new non-European supply, in the current climate.

“Prices will not decrease – energy costs in Europe are too high, raw material costs also a factor and imports are not worth the risk,” an Italian mill source said.

The same source anticipates an upward trend on the back of the US lifting Section 232 tariffs on EU steel and aluminum effective Jan. 1, 2022.

— Catherine Brown