European HRC prices believed to have reached bottom; market expects increase announcements

European hot-rolled coil prices were largely unchanged on Friday December 2, with market participants believing the bottom of the market had been reached, Fastmarkets heard.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Northern Europe at €618.75 ($647.70) per tonne on Friday, up by €2.08 per tonne from €616.67 per tonne the previous day.

The latest calculation of the index was down by €5.94 per tonne week on week and down by €30.83 per tonne month on month.

Indications of tradeable values were reported by buyer sources at €610-630 per tonne ex-works on Friday.

Transactions for small volumes were reported within that range.

Producers are selling January-rolling material, according to market sources.

“Mills still need orders,” a distributor in the region said. “They closed immediate needs for December-January, but their order books are not great.”

But most sources agreed that HRC prices in the region have hit rock bottom and expect major European producers to announce price increases before stopping work for the Christmas holidays.

“It is not likely that the [HRC] price will rebound this year. But in the first quarter of 2023, rises of some €20-30 per tonne are likely,” another distributor source said.

“The market is still very quiet and most buyers are still in wait-and-see mode. But we do expect a price increase announcement before the year-end. The market is not really predictable,” a trading source said.

Distributors and steel service centers were reported to be competing for volumes in the secondary market, trying to preserve their margins.

Producer sources, in turn, confirmed the intention to increase HRC prices for the first quarter of 2023, but were still reluctant to make firm offers.

One integrated mill in the region estimated the minimum price for January-rolling HRC to be €650 per tonne ex-works.

Fastmarkets’ calculation of its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Italy was €615.00 per tonne on Friday, stable day on day.

The latest calculation of the Italian index was up by €23.75 per tonne week on week but down by €40 per tonne month on month.

Buyers’ estimates of tradeable prices were reported at €610-630 per tonne ex-works.

Offers from local producers were reported at €630-650 per tonne ex-works for January-delivery HRC.

Overseas HRC offers were not yet considered competitive by Italian buyers, given the long lead times and the small gap to domestic prices.

Notably, sources reported that offers from India to Italy were around €590-600 per tonne CFR for dry coil, and €620 per tonne CFR for pickled and oiled HRC.

HRC offers from Southeast Asia were reported at €590-610 per tonne CFR.

Published by: Julia Bolotova