Despite the limited trading, prices for steel HRC were seen climbing steadily, gaining strength from reduced supply, sources said.
In Northern Europe, tradeable values for HRC were reported by buyers sources at €730-750 ($793-815) per tonne ex-works, while some sources estimated the market even higher – at €750-770 per tonne ex-works for April delivery HRC.
Transactions were reported at €740-750 per tonne ex-works in Germany and at €760-770 per tonne ex-works in Benelux area.
Producers in the region, meanwhile, were targeting €800-820 per tonne ex-works for HRC with second-quarter lead times.
Some sources, however, expressed doubts about mills’ order books, claiming that in reality shorter lead times were still available at the majority of sellers.
“Despite the wait-and-see [approach of buyers] and weak market, EU steel producers claim to have full orderbooks. But this is questionable because lead times are either normal or relatively fast,” a buyer in the region said.
“Buyers are taking a wait-and-see approach and buying only material what they need and cautiously following market developments,” a second buyer source said.
As a result, Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €742.92 per tonne on January 18, up by €7.29 per tonne compared with €735.63 per tonne on January 17.
The index was up by €11.67 per tonne week on week and by €49.79 per tonne month on month.
Meanwhile, in Southern Europe, Fastmarkets calculated its corresponding daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Italy at €734.61 per tonne on January 18, up by €4.61 per tonne from €730.00 per tonne on January 17.
The index was up by €14.61 per tonne week on week and by €48.78 per tonne month on month.
Trading in the Italian market was described by most sources as “dead” or “non-existent”, with buyers seen keeping on the sidelines, making only back-to-back bookings.
But most sources agreed that the price of €750 per tonne delivered (around €735 per tonne ex-works) was widely established in deals in the local market.
Offers still stood higher, at around €760-780 per tonne delivered for March-April lead times.
“There are not so many mills able to supply coil in Italy, if we are speaking of domestic market. And imports are quite limited and/or uncompetitive, given all trade restrictions in pace,” an Italian trader said.
Import HRC offers to Italy for late-March shipment from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were reported at €655-670 per tonne CFR to Italy.
Published by: Julia Bolotova