European HRC market slow; ArcelorMittal targets higher prices

A wait-and-see attitude among buyers and weak demand continued to inhibit trading activity in the hot-rolled coil market in Europe on Thursday December 15.
Even so, ArcelorMittal announced that it would be increasing its offer prices for the material across Europe from Thursday.

But despite that move, market participants said a significant uptrend in demand or price levels before the end of the year remained unlikely.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, ex-works Northern Europe, at €630.00 ($670.83) per tonne on Thursday, down by €8.13 from €638.13 on Wednesday.

The latest calculation of the index is up by €5.00 per tonne since last week and stable month on month.

Hand-to-mouth bookings, a pessimistic outlook and weak market conditions resulted in prices remaining largely stable in the HRC market.

“It has been a tough end to the year. Buyers have booked coil for January delivery, but they are not yet booking coil for February,” a buyer source said.

“Market participants are trying to understand whether an uptrend is sustainable,” the buyer source added.

ArcelorMittal is increasing its offer prices by around €50 per tonne across Europe, trading sources told Fastmarkets.

As of Thursday, new offers for HRC were heard at €680 per tonne EXW for February rolling, sources said – up from €630 per tonne EXW.

Some sources remained doubtful that these price rises would be accepted by the market given the fact market conditions have not significantly altered.

“I see mainly hand-to-mouth bookings [and] everyone is cautious. I don’t expect any real changes to occur before the year end, regardless of ArcelorMittal’s announcement,” a buyer source told Fastmarkets.

Buyer estimates of workable prices were reported at €605-650 per tonne EXW.

Fastmarkets’ calculation of its daily steel HRC index domestic, exw Italy, was €630.00 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from Wednesday.

The latest calculation of the Italian index is up by €8.85 per tonne from a week earlier and up by €9.37 per tonne month on month.

Buyer estimates of workable prices in Italy were reported at €630 per tonne EXW. One buyer estimate came in at €670 per tonne EXW, but that was widely considered as unworkable in the current market.

Sources said that steel mills were likely to continue targeting higher prices until they close for the Christmas holidays.

Published by: India-Inés Levy