European mills push for higher hot-rolled prices, but demand barriers persist

Price indications for hot-rolled coil were heard in a wide range in the low-demand EU market Oct 27 as mills attempted to resist giving in to bearish sentiments.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe up Eur10 at Eur660/mt ex-works Ruhr Oct 27.

Buyers saw a tradable value at or below the Eur650/mt price point, ex-works Ruhr, while mills reported Eur700/mt ex-works as a sell-side target.

Uncertainty as to the market price was accentuated by a lack of evidentiary transactional activity, with one mill source describing the market as dead, saying was no trading at all.

Buyers agreed, continuing to refrain from purchasing due to poor end consumption, thus restricting distributors’ capacity to reduce relatively large inventories of expensive material purchased in the wake of the price rally earlier this year.

Sentiments were not purely limited to pessimism, however, with some trader and mill sources seeing bullish indications for first-quarter demand revival, particularly tied to ongoing or planned infrastructural projects.

With the EuroBLECH fair coming to its close, mills still had yet to settle automotive contracts.

“There is too much speculation and mills are looking for shorter-term contracts,” a producer source said.

In the Italian market, the story was similar, although a trade was reported at Eur670/mt ex-works. Platts assessed Italian HRC at Eur670/mt ex-works Italy.

Market participants reported import offers as unchanged, with import HRC assessed stable at Eur620/mt CIF into both Antwerp and South European ports.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar