European HRC prices stable amid holiday slowdown

The European HRC market was muted in the lead up to the new year, with participants anxious to know what the first quarter of 2022 could mean for prices and inventories amid murmurs that automotive demand could make a strong comeback in Q1, sources told S&P Global Platts Dec 30.

Another factor affecting domestic prices were low import prices making their way to Europe, with prices heard between Eur750-760/mt CIF Italy ports ex-India, and Eur830/mt CIF Italy Ports ex-Korea, an Italy trader told Platts.

“It’s only Indian producers that are making very low prices below Eur800/mt, but its not reflective of the import market — import prices should be around Eur820/mt CIF Italy Ports,” the trader said.

The source said he agreed about the market chatter surrounding higher prices for Q1, though it was difficult to get a clear picture for now.

“There is a rumour for price increase but quite difficult to understand because of holidays, but I don’t think it will change the trend, they will not increase too much and cannot see how they would decrease. Auto is starting again and buying,” he said.

Half-yearly and quarterly HRC contracts from North western mills were heard to be “floating” between Eur950-1000/mt delivered Europe, a Benelux service center said.

“As long as automotive haven’t fixed their contract the market will remain unclear,” the source said.

German mill Salzgitter was heard to officially propose Eur1100/mt delivered Europe for auto contracts despite being a lot higher than other European contract offers.

“But what can they do? If they go down it will ruin their positions in the talks with automotive,” the same source said.

— Amanda Flint