Italian HRC prices drop fast, imports considered again

Italian coil prices continue to decline amid market stagnation and low sales. The coil derivative market is also experiencing weak consumption and lower prices, with activity considered to be “stuck”, local sources tell Kallanish.

“We have no apparent demand and our clients are only ordering back-to-back because of the very low visibility. Sheet prices should be at least €70-80/tonne ($75-86) more expensive for us to have a slight margin but prices are falling and our competitors are chasing volumes. Today, nobody is buying hot rolled coil and we can resist using our stocks for some time,” a service centre comments. Another says it is losing money at current prices for the first quarter, following the low sales seen in the second half of 2023.

Some coil buyers have resumed importing from Asia despite the long lead times. Prices from countries such as India, Taiwan and Japan are at €620-640/t cfr Italy for end-March and April boarding, meaning material availability in July. Some contracts from an Asian country were agreed at roughly €650-660/t cfr in the first half of February. After vessels arrive at the port, buyers will not be able to clear out material through customs until quotas are renewed in July, Kallanish is told.

Italian domestic HRC is now at €710-720/t base ex-works for March-April shipment. This represents about a €50/t decline compared to the beginning of February. Sources in the market predict further price declines in the coming weeks and domestic values to fall below €700/t base ex-works in March.

Natalia Capra France