European HRC market slow after holiday break; sources expect prices to slide further

The European hot-rolled coil market was quiet on Tuesday April 2, but sources believed there was room for further declines before rock bottom was reached, Fastmarkets heard.
Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €661.25 ($712) per tonne on April 2, down by €2.50 per tonne from €663.75 per tonne on March 28.

Fastmarkets’ indices were not published on March 29 and April 1 because of the Easter holiday in the UK.

The index was down by €6.25 per tonne week on week and by €54.25 per tonne month on month.

Trading remained slow on Tuesday in Northern Europe, with offers from integrated mills reported at €670-690 per tonne ex-works at lead times of around four to six weeks.

A Benelux-based reroller was offering HRC at €650 per tonne ex-works, but sources said the price could be negotiated for firm bids.

Buyers estimated the tradable level at around €650-670 per tonne ex-works on Tuesday.

“The downtrend [in the HRC market] is not over yet, so no one is really ready to buy [HRC right now],” a buyer in Germany told Fastmarkets.

Sources said there was still room for further price reductions, with the persistent downtrend in global raw materials prices adding to their pessimistic outlook.

“Iron ore prices hit two-year lows [on April 2], with mills [under] constant pressure from buyers to reduce [their finished steel] prices,” a steel service center source said.

Buyers still believed output cuts were inevitable among European flat steel producers and expected some equipment to be taken offline in April and May to balance the market.

Meanwhile, mills continued to hold back from making any official statements regarding reductions in steel output.

In Southern Europe, Fastmarkets’ corresponding daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Italy was calculated at €643.75 per tonne on Tuesday, down by €1.25 per tonne from €645.00 per tonne on March 28.

The index was down by €7.92 per tonne week on week and by €64.17 per tonne month on month.

Offers from one local supplier in Italy for May-delivery HRC were reported at €650-660 per tonne delivered, which nets back to €640-650 per tonne ex-works.

Most sources said prices in Italy had yet to hit rock bottom.

“It looks like we are moving toward the €600 [per tonne ex-works] mark,” a buyer source said.

Import offers were limited in Italy on Tuesday, with HRC on offer from Asia at €570-580 per tonne CFR for June-July arrival, sources said.

But Italian buyers were cautious about making new HRC bookings from Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea, due to the uncertainty over potential safeguard duties after June 30.

According to European customs statistics, the “other countries” HRC quota for the second quarter of 2024 was already at 80% as of April 1, with 740,890 tonnes of the total 923,594-tonne quarterly allowance already awaiting allocation.

The “other countries” category includes Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Egypt.

Published by: Julia Bolotova