Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, at €645.13 ($689.91) per tonne on November 8, up by €5.13 per tonne from €640.00 per tonne on November 7.
The index was up by €22.63 per tonne week on week and by €28.13 per tonne month on month.
Transactions in Germany were reported at €640-650 per tonne ex-works, while in the Benelux region deals were heard at €660 per tonne ex-works, but only for limited volumes.
“Some restocking is necessary, but the market is too uncertain to order big volumes,” a steel service center source in Northern Europe said.
Lead times from integrated mills in the region remained at 4-6 weeks, while offers were reported at €680-700 per tonne ex-works.
Market sources said that, for first-quarter rolling, producers would like to consolidate prices “starting with a 7” – meaning, €700 per tonne or more.
Currently, reduced supplies due to output cuts, restocking and the uptrend in imports were the major factors driving up prices, industry sources told Fastmarkets.
“I think it’s realistic to forecast higher prices in the first quarter [of 2024] because imports are getting more expensive and the ‘other countries’ quotas for fourth-quarter HRC are full,” a market participant told Fastmarkets, referring to the EU’s quarterly limits on steel-product imports.
“Distributors will have to restock to avoid overly long lead times resulting from all the temporary shutdowns of capacity,” a steel service center source said. “The mills are not prepared to negotiate spot offers because they want to secure their positions for the negotiations with the automotive sector.”
European steelmakers were said to be hoping to roll over their automotive contracts for the first half of 2024, while original equipment manufacturers in the industry were seeking a price reduction.
In Southern Europe, Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Italy, at €621.46 per tonne on November 8, up by €0.21 per tonne from €621.25 per tonne on November 7.
The Italian index was also up by €17.71 per tonne week on week and up by €15.49 per tonne month on month.
In Italy, one integrated steelmaker was reported to be out of the market, but other sources said that the price idea from the mill for first-quarter rolling would be no lower than €680 per tonne delivered (€665 per tonne ex-works).
But the market sources said that a more realistic price for HRC in the first quarter of 2024 would be around €650-660 per tonne delivered (about €635-645 per tonne ex-works).
The most recent transactions for December-rolling HRC in Europe were heard at €635-640 per tonne delivered (€620-625 per tonne ex-works).
Import offers, meanwhile, were trending higher, with most Asian suppliers offering January-shipment HRC to Europe, which would mean February-March arrival.
“With the current lead times, import tonnages booked now could be customs-cleared only by April 1, for the [EU’s] second-quarter safeguard period,” a trading source in Italy said.
Asia-origin HRC was on offer to Europe at €610-620 per tonne CFR, although several market sources said that, for volumes of 30,000 tonnes or more, Vietnamese mills were accepting €590 per tonne CFR to Italy.
Indian mills were quite bullish, with offers reported at €640-650 per tonne cfr to Europe.
“The Indian steel market is booming, so they are not interested in exports to Europe, really,” a second trader said.
Only Turkish mills were still able to offer material for December shipment, but their offer price of €640-650 per tonne CFR to Italy, duty included, was not considered workable by EU buyers.
Published by: Julia Bolotova