HRC prices flat in Europe; no rebound in sight amid insufficient demand

European hot-rolled coil prices were stagnant in a quiet market after bullish momentum disappeared amid a lack of real demand, sources told Fastmarkets on Wednesday May 22.

Quiet trading conditions prevailed in the European HRC market on Wednesday. Despite the common realization among buyers and sellers that the price has reached a bottom, bullish momentum has failed to reignite.

“Prices [for HRC] have been stable for the last three to four weeks, mills’ attempts to get higher values have failed because demand is not there and the market is oversupplied,” a buyer in Germany said.

“Mills, however, do not want to drop prices ahead of long-term contract negotiations with automotive [customers] for the second half of 2024,” he added.

Buyers’ estimates of tradable values for HRC in Northern Europe ranged between €630 ($684) per tonne and €650 per tonne ex-works, with deals reported at €630-640 per tonne ex-works in the week started May 20.

This was in contrast with offers heard at €640-670 per tonne ex-works for HRC with delivery in June-July.

Sources expected the next round of restocking to be in mid-June but suggested that booked volumes will likely remain limited.

As a result, Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €637.00 ($691.64) per tonne on Wednesday, marginally down by €1.75 per tonne from €638.75 per tonne on the previous day.

The index was down by €3.63 per tonne week on week but up by €11.58 per tonne month on month.

Fastmarkets’ corresponding daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Italy was calculated at €632.50 per tonne on Wednesday, down by €1.25 per tonne from €633.75 per tonne on the day before.

The index was down by €4.88 per tonne week on week but up by €13.33 per tonne month on month.

Prices for HRC in the Italian market were also fairly stable on Wednesday.

Transactions were reported at €630-640 per tonne ex-works for Italy-origin HRC with July delivery.

Offers for such material were made earlier this month at €670 per tonne delivered (€660 per tonne ex-works), but this level was deemed “unworkable” by buyers.

“Trend reversal has failed; yes, [HRC] prices have stopped falling and tended to stabilize in the past few weeks, but no major rebound has happened,” a buyer in Italy said.

Distributors and steel-service centers struggled to increase prices downstream amid poor end-user demand.

“There was an attempt to increase prices for HR sheets to €740-750 per tonne delivered, but bookings are still done at no higher than €720-730 per tonne delivered,” a steel service center source in Italy said.

Import offers were largely flat day on day.

Notably, July-shipment HRC from Vietnam was available at €580-590 per tonne CFR. But it was not widely confirmed by all sources that lower end was actually available.

HRC from India was on offer in Europe at €590-600 per tonne CFR, depending on a supplier.

And offers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were heard at €600-620 per tonne CFR for July-August shipment.

Buyers’ price ideas for imported coil was around €550-560 per tonne CFR – a price which is currently outside the acceptable range for overseas suppliers.

Published by: Julia Bolotova