Non-EU import offers re-emerge in European hot-rolled coil market

Buying activity was muted May 21 as participants assessed the situation following latest price hikes and a significant rise in import offers from the European market, sources said.

An Italian reroller said offers from non-EU countries were at Eur1,030/mt CFR for October arrival, while a German stockholder said an offer from India at Eur1,100/mt FCA Antwerp came in. Egypt was heard offering at Eur1,080/mt CFR Antwerp.

A German SSC source said he received the India offer as well, along with offers from Libya and Taiwan. A South Korean offer was also received with shipment time in October.

“Maybe they are coming because it is an attractive market [price wise],” said the SSC source.

The stockholder source said the re-emergence of imports could be seen as a signal that the markets are peaking, though it was too early to say. The stockholder also reported an Italian SSC offering coils into Germany.

One European mill said they achieved Eur1,100/mt EXW plus Eur12/mt carbon surcharge, while a Scandinavian mill said that they were looking to achieve Eur1,100-1,150/mt EXW. One German mill was heard to be still offering below Eur1,100/mt EXW Ruhr for November delivery, though this was considered the bottom of the market.

The daily Platts HRC assessment for EXW Ruhr was stable at Eur1,105/mt EXW Ruhr May 21. The daily Italian HRC assessment for EXW Italy also remained stable at Eur1,100/mt EXW Italy May 21.

Availability of material remains to be the main issue in the market. Although some import offers could potentially be a window of opportunity, buyers were hesitant to commit given long lead times and uncertainty over the extension of safeguard quotas on imports into the EU following the expiration June 30.

Several sources said that one reroller would be coming back from maintenance the following week but would still have to work through a backlog of six weeks until sources expect any easing in material availability palpable on the market.

The UK HRC market, however, saw more movement within the week with participants reporting HRC levels between GBP950-970/mt, though buying activity slowed by May 21.

“Everyone has done their deals for the fourth quarter,” said a UK-based source, adding that buying appetite further ahead would be scant given the uncertainty over future developments in 2022.

UK sources said non-EU import offers for HRC had not arrived in the UK yet with one trader saying that the UK safeguard quota extension proposal published May 19 could be a turn-off for buying non-EU material.

— Laura Varriale