HRC prices in Europe tick up on higher offers; strength of rebound questionable

European hot-rolled coil prices edged up on higher offers on Friday September 1, but market participants expect more clarity on the direction of prices next week when buyers come back to the market.

Even though European steelmakers have been gradually pushing for higher prices, with some claiming to have achieved slight increases in recent deals, the sustainability of the uptrend remains in doubt.

“It’s hard to get higher prices for HR sheet and sections; customers are pressuring us for a decrease actually,” a trading source told Fastmarkets. “The [HRC] price rise the European mills are seeking has no support [in terms of] demand.”

European mills are targeting €700 ($761) per tonne EXW in Northern Europe for October-delivery HRC, but no trades have been reported at that level so far and most buyers consider it “unrealistic” due to insufficient real steel demand.

Transactions for limited tonnages of HRC in Northern Europe were reported at €650-660 per tonne EXW. And one integrated mill claimed to have achieved €670-680 per tonne EXW for prompt-delivery coil – although this was not widely confirmed by other market participants.

Buyer estimates of the tradable price in Northern Europe, meanwhile, remained at €640-660 per tonne ex-works.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €656.25 per tonne on Friday, up by just €6.25 per tonne from the previous calculation of €650.00 per tonne on August 31.

The index was up by €12.50 per tonne week on week and up by €6.25 per tonne month on month.

Fastmarkets’ calculation of its corresponding daily steel HRC index domestic, exw Italy was €637.50 per tonne on Friday, up by €2.50 per tonne from €635.00 per tonne on August 31.

The Italian index was up by €2.50 per tonne week on week, but unchanged month on month.

Italian producers were also targeting higher prices, sources said, notably €700 per tonne delivered (about €680-685 per tonne ex-works) for October-delivery HRC.

But local buyers were maintaining a wait-and-see stance, with restocking expected to begin in the first 10 days of September.

Even though trading sources were not ruling out some HRC price increases in September, the target level voiced by Italian mills was not considered to be realistic.

Buyer ideas for the tradable level came in at €630-650 per tonne ex-works.

Sources told Fastmarkets they expect more clarity regarding the direction of Southern European HRC prices in the coming week when all the buyers and sellers have returned after the summer break.

Published by: Julia Bolotova