Northwest European HRC prices up; some mills withdraw offers

Domestic prices for hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe increased March 3, supported by limited availability from both domestic and overseas suppliers.

Some steelmakers have withdrawn offers from the market and were expected to return with higher offers at the start of next week, sources said.

“ArcelorMittal and Tata Steel have withdrawn offers on Thursday, and we will see higher prices next week,” a German service center source said. “It seems that offers for HRC will move up by another Eur20/mt to Eur860/mt delivered Germany.”

In the meantime, deals for the material have been reported at Eur810-830/mt ex-works Ruhr. Market participants estimated tradable values within the same range.

Platts assessed domestic prices for hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe up by Eur15/mt on day to Eur820/mt ex-works Ruhr March 3.

The price increase has been supported by European mills’ solid order books, limited availability, long lead times for imports and an anticipated restocking revival.

European mills have been offering May-June delivery HRC. Some steelmakers in Northwest Europe have had limited volumes to offer due to technical issues at the plants, and a steelmaker in Italy has been reported to focus on sales of non-commodity grade coil.

The mills and majority of market sources expect that distributors would start restocking soon as they have been holding back from purchases of bigger volumes of coil since mid-January.

Import offers of HRC with delivery in late July-August have only been available from Asia at Eur750-790/mt CIF Antwerp. Offers from Turkey have been absent after the February’s earthquakes.

Platts assessed import prices for hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe up Eur10/mt day on day to Eur760/mt CIF Antwerp.

The main challenge to the bullish mood in the European market remained end-user resistance to higher prices.

“Distributors struggle to transfer price rises to their customers,” a mill source said. “End-users see that there is little ground for demand recovery and, therefore, no good reasons for the price rise.”

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Maria Tanatar