European HRC prices stable in quiet market; sentiment cautiously positive

European hot-rolled coil prices were unchanged on Wednesday May 1, with trading almost non-existent due to public holidays in most EU states.

Still, sentiment remained cautiously positive and European mills were aiming for higher prices, Fastmarkets heard.

An uptrend in the imported coil market and improved restocking supported European steelmakers’ attempts to raise prices.

“The cheapest import prices are gone and those suppliers who can offer discounts have huge safeguard quota risks and quite distant lead times,” a trading source in the Netherlands said. “Apparent demand is still quite slow but customers have low stocks.”

Integrated mills in Northern Europe have stopped granting lower prices for June-delivery coil, several sources told Fastmarkets.

“We’ve booked coil at €630 ($674) per tonne ex-works but, when we tried to increase volumes for the same price, the mill rejected the bid,” a buyer in Northern Europe said.

Offer prices for June delivery HRC from integrated mills in Northern Europe were reported in the range of €640-670 per tonne ex-works, with lead times reported at four to five weeks.

A leading European steelmaker raised its offers to €670 per tonne ex-works earlier this week.

Buyers’ estimates of tradeable values were heard within €630-640 per tonne ex-works, with deals reported within this range earlier in the weak.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €632.00 ($676) per tonne on May 1, unchanged day on day.

The index was up by €6.58 per tonne week on week but down by €31.75 per tonne month on month.

In Southern Europe, Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Italy was calculated at €627.25 per tonne on Wednesday, also unchanged day on day.

The index was up by €6.62 per tonne week on week but down by €17.75 per tonne month on month.

The Italian market was quiet on Wednesday due to a public holiday.

Offers for HRC with a lead time of four-to-five weeks from a local supplier were at €660-670 per tonne delivered (€650-660 per tonne ex-works), up from €640-650 per tonne delivered (€630-640 per tonne ex-works) in early April.

But buyers estimated tradeable values at no higher than €630-640 per tonne delivered (€620-630 per tonne ex-works).

At the same time, some sources suggested that local suppliers had that chance to increase prices incrementally given uncompetitive imports and buyers’ need to restock.

“End-user demand remains sluggish so major price rises are unlikely to be accepted. But small steps — [up by] €10-15-20 per tonne – are quite possible since there are no import alternatives,” a buyer source said.

Import offers for HRC have risen by €10-20 per tonne in the past two weeks, making overseas coil purchases less attractive for European buyers, especially taking into consideration long lead times. Asian mills were offering material for June-July shipment, which means arrival in August.

Prices for HRC from Vietnam, South Korea and India for June-July shipment were consolidating around €600-620 per tonne CFR.

From Turkey, June-shipment coil was offered at $660 per tonne CFR to Antwerp, without anti-dumping duty.

Published by: Julia Bolotova