European mills aim for higher HRC prices on expected demand recovery

European steelmakers have been targeting higher domestic prices for hot-rolled coil, anticipating higher demand in the first quarter next year, market sources said Dec. 6.

No transactions have been reported at higher prices yet as buyers have been focused on managing their inventories by year-end. And the outlook for the start of 2023 has been mixed among market participants.

Some believe the need to restock after a couple of months of muted trading activity combined with effects from production cuts and high energy costs would push prices up.

Others think that demand from end-users would likely remain below normal rates and that stocks of the European distributors remain sufficient. As a result, a significant price rise is unlikely.

“I have mixed feelings about the outlook,” a Northern European service center source said. “I know that some people are quite optimistic, but I suspect that this could be wishful thinking and they could be confusing short-lived restocking with strong end-user demand.”

Platts assessed HRC in Northwest Europe at Eur615/mt ex-works Ruhr Dec. 6, unchanged day on day.

Offers have been reported at Eur630-650/mt ex-works, while buyers estimated tradable value at Eur610-620/mt ex-works.

A Central European source, however, said that the German mills have been still giving offers at prices below Eur600/mt ex-works Ruhr to the central part of the EU, at the equivalent of Eur580-605/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Platts assessed domestic HRC in the south of Europe stable at Eur620/mt ex-works Italy Dec. 6.

The assessment was based on a tradable value in Eur620-630/mt ex-works Italy and offers at Eur650/mt ex-works.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Maria Tanatar