European HRC producers mull price rises on higher costs

Prices for steel hot-rolled coil in Europe were largely unchanged on Friday October 27 amid limited activity, but participants expect more price increase announcements from mills shortly, sources told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Northern Europe at €615.21 ($648.91) per tonne on October 27, up by €1.79 per tonne from €613.42 per tonne on October 26.

The index was also up by €2.08 per tonne week on week, but down and by €10.42 per tonne month on month.

Market sources largely agreed that that HRC prices have touched the floor and further drops were seen as unlikely due to mounting costs at mills.

December-delivery HRC was offered by integrated mills in the region at €620-650 per tonne ex-works, while buyer’s estimates of achievable values were still in the range of €600-620 per tonne ex-works, stable from a day earlier.

A re-roller in the Benelux region was offering similar material at €595-600 per tonne ex-works.

But sources pointed out that lower prices were only achievable for December-delivery tonnages, while mills planned to announce increases for January-delivery coil.

Deals have been scarce recently, with most buyers tending to book small volumes to cover urgent needs.
But sources noted a slight increase in buying interest this week, because there is more of an understanding that prices have reached a floor.

“Big distributors and steel-service centers are sending inquiries. Nobody is looking to buy big tonnages yet, but compared to a completely quiet first half of October we are now seeing some movement in the market,” a mill source in Northern Europe said.

Producers hope to achieve price increases for HRC with January lead times on the expectation of fewer imports, production cuts and the emergence of some restocking demand.

Some buyer sources, however, were more pessimistic, claiming the slow consumption at present was not supportive of any price rises.

“Demand is still very weak and there is no light in the end of the tunnel. Lead times are short, some even within four weeks, which indicates the thin orderbooks mills have at the moment,” a steel-service center source in the region said.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Italy was €600.63 per tonne on October 27, up by €0.63 per tonne from €600 per tonne a day earlier.

The index was up by €3.96 per tonne week on week, but down by €8.33 per tonne month on month.

Offers for December-delivery HRC from Italian producers were reported at €620-630 per tonne ex-works, however such levels were not achieved in deals yet.

Buyer’s estimates of the tradable price were closer to €600 per tonne ex-works since mills were rejecting bids below this level.

Market sources also noted slightly improved trading in Italy, with some distributors and steel service centers feeling the need to replenish inventories, Fastmarkets heard.

Asia-origin HRC imports for end-December-January shipment were on offer to Italy at around €580-600 per tonne CFR, mainly from Vietnam, South Korea and Japan, which is stable week on week.

Published by: Julia Bolotova