European HRC prices higher, buyers in ‘wait and see’ position

European hot-rolled coil prices were heard slightly higher April 19 as coil prices continue to inch up further to the level announced by ArcelorMittal last month, with buyers still contending with an acute steel shortage, and no further signs of increased capacity, sources told S&P Global Platts.

Although the market remains firm on the expectation prices will increase further, doubts remain about whether mills can deliver spot volumes to their customers.

“I’m not happy about this, the industry is struggling, and if steel becomes so expensive and above this [price] limit, buyers will not be able to work anymore,” A European mill source said.

The same source said the automotive industry was creating the dire situation on HDG, as they were heard to still be achieving material at lower, previously agreed prices.

“Only the expensive deals are the ones being made on a quarterly basis and spot,” a European mill source said, “they are carrying the weight of the actual situation.”

the same source said that customers that usually booked through service centers were contacting his mill directly to try and place orders, though they were unsuccessful due to the shortage of material.

“Steel mills are still out of the market; if you get something the price is very high, but you still take it,” a steel service center source said. “We are in contact with 12-13 different steel mills and none of them can offer anything.”

In the Italian market, an Italy-based mill source said HRC transactions were not above Eur920-940/mt ex-works Italy, and said if buyers had a need for material, they would have to pay more.

The mill source said buyers were in a “wait and see mode” before taking a position for July-September allocations.

— Amanda Flint