HRC prices stabilize in Europe; demand too weak to support substantial rise

Trading remained thin in the European hot-rolled coil market on Friday July 7, with prices broadly unchanged due to a lack of demand, sources told Fastmarkets.Fastmarkets’ daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Northern Europe was calculated at €682.00 ($743.14) per tonne on Friday, up by €0.12 per tonne from €681.88 per tonne on Thursday.

The latest calculation of the Northern European index was up by €7.90 per tonne week on week, but down by €26.13 per tonne month on month.

Buyers in the region estimated the tradable level at €670-700 per tonne EXW for September-delivery HRC.

One source reported that a mill in Central Europe was trying to push offers up to around €750 per tonne EXW on Friday, but this could not be widely confirmed by the time of publication.

Traded volumes remained limited in the region, however, amid continued sluggish demand from end users, sources said.

“Sales are slow, there are no signs of restocking in the market yet,” a mill source told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets calculated its corresponding daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Italy at €662.00 per tonne on Friday, up by €3 per tonne from €659.00 per tonne the previous day.

The Italian index was up by €12.00 per tonne week on week, but down by €8.87 per tonne month on month.

Italian producers have recently been trying to increase prices, aiming for €680-700 per tonne EXW in their offers, but no deals have been done at that level because buyers are reluctant to accept higher prices when sales are so slow.

Transactions were reported at €650-660 per tonne EXW in the week to Friday, but mainly for limited tonnages and trading remained slow in the Italian HRC market, with buyers still holding back from restocking.

“[Steel service centers and] distributors are banking on a continued downtrend in the domestic and import [HRC] markets and have therefore been selling [processed HRC] downstream very aggressively,” a producer source in Italy said.

Sources said they expect buying activity to pick up in the Italian HRC market toward the end of July, when restocking takes place ahead of the summer stoppages at steel mills.

They added, however, that the restocking is likely to be limited due to looming uncertainty regarding post-holiday season demand and price trends.

HRC was on offer from a few Asian mills at €610-630 per tonne CFR Italy in the week to Friday, Fastmarkets understands, mainly for September shipment. And one Indian mill was offering HRC at €600 per tonne CFR for mid-October shipment.

The shrinking gap with domestic prices, along with the long lead times, have limited buying interest in overseas coil in recent weeks.

Published by: Julia Bolotova