European HRC producers watch market, weigh new year price levels

Mill offers were heard as largely withdrawn Jan. 4 while steelmakers assessed new-year prices, with activity expected to resume in the hot-rolled coil market from next week.

What few offers were heard in the market were reported higher at Eur750-780/mt ex-works Ruhr — a distributor source reported small tonnage deals on the same range.

Generally, however, market participants considered tradable value at a Eur700/mt minimum, ex-works Ruhr and Northern Europe, above transactional levels seen in December

Indeed, sentiments in the market were overall bullish.

“It’s still very calm, but expectations are quite positive, especially from the mills,” a distributor said. “Those that agreed contracts in December are lucky as mills are asking for more now and are increasingly stiff and inflexible in negotiations.”

A mill source echoed the sentiment.

“Most are out the market this week, but we’re seeing inquiries backed with real demand,” the source said. “Production is down, and we’ve not heard much from import recently, so the majority expect European mills to have a lot more control over prices now and in the first quarter.”

However, some were less positive.

“There is bullish momentum, but a lot of restocking happened in December, so activity will struggle in January, especially with Chinese New Year approaching,” a trader source said. “We see this as a restocking rally following the brutal selloffs last year.”

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe up Eur15/mt Jan. 4, at Eur700/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven