European steelmakers struggle to raise CRC, HDG prices amid thin demand, competitive imports

European steel producers were aiming for higher downstream flat product prices, Fastmarkets heard on Wednesday November 15, but slow demand and competitive imports were hindering their bullish moves.

In Northern Europe, integrated producers were hoping to achieve rises of €30-50 ($32-54) per tonne for cold-rolled coil and hot-dipped galvanized coil for deliveries in January-February.

Offers of CRC were reported closer to €770-780 per tonne ex-works, and around €800 per tonne ex-works for HDG.

But buyers estimated tradable prices to be lower, at €740-750 per tonne ex-works for CRC and €750-770 per tonne ex-works for HDG.

Bookings for January and February deliveries were quite limited, market sources said.

“Real demand is rather low, and CRC imports are very competitive, so European mills have difficulty achieving higher prices,” a trader in Germany said.

“Prices [for CRC and HDG] are nudging upward but very slowly. However, when hot-rolled coil prices are firmer at higher levels, it’s a matter of time before CRC and HDG follow suit,” a trading sources said.

HRC is the feedstock for CRC production, while CRC is used to produce HDG.

Since the week ended November 10, European mills have been pushing for higher HRC offers, to €680-700 per tonne ex-works. According to mill estimates, the premium for CRC over HRC should be “at least €100 per tonne” and at least €120-130 per tonne for HDG, considering current costs.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel cold-rolled coil, domestic, exw Northern Europe, was €740-750 per tonne on Wednesday, up by €10 per tonne from €730-740 per tonne seven days earlier.

And the corresponding weekly price assessment for steel hot-dipped galvanized coil, domestic, exw Northern Europe, was €750-780 per tonne on Wednesday, up by €10-30 per tonne from €740-750 per tonne in the same comparison.

Meanwhile, competitive offers from overseas suppliers were putting additional pressure on European prices.

“Unlike for HRC, for CRC imports there are no allocation concerns [related to EU import restrictions] and the price gap with European mills is quite workable,” a trading source in Italy said.

Offers of Taiwan-origin CRC for January shipment were reported at €685 per tonne CFR to European ports, while CRC offers from South Korea and Japan were around €700-710 per tonne CFR.

Market sources reported bookings of Taiwanese and South Korean CRC at those prices to Antwerp during the assessment week.

And a Vietnamese supplier was offering $840 per tonne CFR for 0.5mm HDG with Z140 coating, for January shipment.

Published by: Julia Bolotova