European HRC market stays quiet while talks of Q4 quota import levels increase

The European hot-rolled coil market remained quiet amid the summer lull while market chatter surrounded increasingly full import quotas which have resulted in material being kept on hold to be cleared at ports, sources said Aug 3.

Sources expect that particularly Italian ports have at least 300,000 mt of HRC awaiting clearance at ports for the quota period starting Oct.1.

According to the European Commission, the “other country” quota for the current quota period (July 1 to Sept. 30) had been exhausted July 25 while the current quota balance for South Korea was shown as critical Aug. 3 with 92.03% filled.

“There will be a lot of material for the end of the year [in Europe],” said an Italian service center.

“Oct. 1 could see big congestions at ports,” said the source, adding that most importers are keeping the material on hold for the next quota period to avoid a 25% duty that applies when quotas have been exhausted. Import offers into Italy were heard at Eur600-605/mt CIF Italy.

Domestic HRC prices in Italy and Northwestern Europe saw no change. One mill source said prices ex-mill would be Eur670-680/mt ex-works Ruhr, while another distributor said prices from Central-Eastern Europe were at Eur620-630/mt EXW, although buying remained limited.

An Italian mill was heard to offer at Eur660-680/mt EXW for prompt.

The daily Platts assessments for HRC EXW Ruhr and HRC EXW Italy remained unchanged Aug. 3 at Eur640/mt and Eur635/mt, respectively.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Author Laura Varriale, Maria Tanatar