Imminent increases indicated for European HRC, lead times extend under improved supply-demand balance

While prices in the European hot-rolled coil market remained stable Jan. 6, market participants were bullish on near-term trading in anticipation of offer increases.

Mill sources confirmed Eur700/mt ex-works Northern Europe as a target price for the week beginning Jan. 2, seeing growing acceptance from buyers to higher price levels.

Buyers were heard as attempting to sustain December prices of around Eur650-660/mt ex-works Ruhr through the week, but gradually increased bids to Eur680-700/mt ex-works toward the week’s end.

However, a mill source reported that even the higher end of said bids were rejected on the day – in a signal of higher prices to come week beginning Jan. 9.

“It seems there’s some momentum in the market,” said the source. “All agree that the lowest of prices are gone, and the mills will follow the same bullish routine in weeks to come to give support to increased offers. Mills, service centers, distributors – no one is profiting at Eur600/mt.”

Market participants expected official increases of around Eur50-100/mt, seeing the tradable level rising to around Eur730-750/mt in the near-term, ex-works Ruhr and Northern Europe.

Higher prices indeed seem more sustainable than in last year’s trading context, with supply and demand better aligned after production cuts across the market.

Lead times from some European mills were heard as now extending into April, though most could still offer March delivery.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe stable Jan. 6 at Eur700/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven