European HRC prices slide further in bearish market

European domestic prices for hot-rolled coil fell further on Thursday February 15 due to sluggish demand, with lower offers failing to spur buying, sources told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Northern Europe at €737.60 ($790.33) per tonne on Thursday, down by €8.40 per tonne from €746.00 on Wednesday.

The index was down by €17.19 per tonne week on week but up by €6.35 per tonne month on month.

Offers from integrated producers in the region were heard at €740-760 per tonne ex-works for HRC with April lead times. But sources pointed out that steelmakers were ready to give a discount of €10-20 per tonne on firm bids.

“Order books at mills are not so full for the second quarter, plus we had a few blast furnaces back online in January, so availability [of HRC] is expected to improve — while demand, not so much,” a buyer source in Northern Europe told Fastmarkets.

In January, several European steelmakers restarted capacities that were idled in 2023 because of low demand or due to maintenance needs, Fastmarkets reported.

In Germany, transactions were reported at €725-740 per tonne ex-works in the week from Monday February 12.

One re-roller in Benelux has reportedly sold an HRC cargo to Germany at €710 per tonne ex-works. However, this was not widely confirmed by the market before the publication deadline.

Italy-origin coil was heard offered to Germany at €755 per tonne delivered.

Despite substantial price drops since the beginning of February, trading in Northern Europe remained sluggish because buyers expected the downtrend to persist throughout February and into March, Fastmarkets understands.

“Mills failed to get higher prices for second-quarter [delivery] orders,” a buyer in Germany said. “There are no positive changes from the demand side — that’s the key problem.”

“Of course, everyone wants to restock at rock bottom [prices]. Despite price drops, we still only see low-tonnage sales here and there, no restocking,” a mill source in the region said.

Mill sources and some buyers said they did not expect HRC prices to drop below €700 per tonne ex-works due to production costs and reduced price pressure from imports.

“Uncertainty over safeguards, CBAM [the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism] and long lead times make imports unattractive to many buyers, despite lower prices. Buyers who wait too long to restock will have no other option but to book with European mills and pay European prices,” a steel-service center source in Germany said.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Italy at €730.83 per tonne on Wednesday, down by €4.80 per tonne from €735.63 per tonne on Tuesday February 13.

The index was down by €19.70 per tonne week on week but up by €8.33 per tonne month on month.

Offers of April-delivery HRC from domestic suppliers were reported around €750 per tonne delivered (€735-740 per tonne ex-works).

Buyers estimated achievable values for April-delivery HRC at €720-740 per tonne ex-works.

Trading remained sluggish in the domestic market because buyers have been keeping to the sidelines and not restocking, Fastmarkets understands.

In the secondary market, 4mm HR sheet was heard trading no higher than €820-830 per tonne CPT; sources said that achieving higher prices “was extremely difficult” due to poor demand.

No new import offers were reported due to the Lunar New Year in Asia.

Published by: Julia Bolotova