European HRC prices stable amid holiday break; production cuts may spur rises

European hot-rolled coil prices were stable on Tuesday January 2 amid a seasonally quiet market. Expectations for the first quarter of 2024 remained cautiously positive, Fastmarkets heard.

The European HRC market has remained largely inactive following the Christmas and New Year break.

Market sources expected trading to resume in the second week of January, with cautiously optimistic moods prevailing among sellers.

With production outputs in the region having been cut in the second half of 2023, lead times were stretching and mills were able to target higher prices as a result.

On top of that, import prices have also been rising recently, and interest for overseas coil has been limited due to the smaller gap with European prices, safeguards-related risks and long lead times.

Besides, several market sources told Fastmarkets that one major European producer has reportedly booked sizeable volumes of HRC imports before the Christmas break to reduce overseas coil availability in Europe.

But some buyers remained concerned over the lack of end-user demand and some capacities coming back online in the first quarter of 2024.

“I think a rollover of [HRC] prices is the most likely scenario, given the slow consumption,” a distributor source in northern Europe said. “We’ll see next week, the market is still in a holiday mood.”

In northern Europe, offers from integrated mills for March delivery were reported at €720-750 per tonne ex-works before the holiday break, while tradable values were estimated by buyers at €680-710 per tonne ex-works on Tuesday.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €695.00 ($767) per tonne on Tuesday, down marginally by €0.50 per tonne from €695.50 per tonne on December 29.

The index was also down by €0.50 per tonne week on week but up by €24.12 per tonne month on month.

No activity was heard in the Italian market, and Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Italy at €688.33 per tonne on Tuesday, unchanged since December 22.

Published by: Julia Bolotova