European HRC prices stable; market expects more auto demand in Q4

European hot-rolled coil prices were heard to be stable Aug. 2 as sources told S&P Global Platts that customers were reluctant to buy new material amid a gradual lowering in Italian HRC prices, as well as lack of demand and cheaper imports.

The holiday period has meant very little activity in the market and uncertainty around buyers awaiting previously booked material and expecting higher prices in the near term.

“The market is dead,” a Benelux service center said. Europe “is more or less on complete holiday.”

Cheaper import prices were also making their way into Europe at Eur990/mt CIF Italy for larger quantities from the Far East, though one Italy-based service center source said the risk was “very high” because of the removal of the Chinese tax rebate.

“This decision will have an important impact on trading companies and customers,” the source said.

While European activity was steady, sources have said that robust automotive demand will return in the year’s last quarter, and therefore cold-rolled coil and hot-dipped galvanized prices were expected to remain mostly stable.

“Without material from Asia, the automotive industry will need more in September,” the same Italy-based service center source said.

Sources said it was difficult to know where transaction prices were because of the lack of buying over the summer, but they noted that southern mills were particularly worried about cheaper imports prices given their hard stance on keeping pressure on prices.

Platts assessed North European HRC prices stable at Eur1,165/mt ex-works Ruhr Aug. 2 and in Southern Europe, prices remained at Eur1,060/mt ex-works Italy.

— Amanda Flint