Pickled HRC benefits most from northwest Europe hike

Prospects are improving for integrated mills in northwest Europe to secure the price increases they are trying to implement for hot rolled coil. However, higher prices may be more likely accepted for pickled rather than unpickled HRC.

Both varieties used to be treated fairly equal in price lists, but a gap has recently opened, as a collateral effect of last year’s enormous price surge. “We have been observing this for more than half a year now,” a manager of a German service centre tells Kallanish. Pickled HRC is not as readily available as unpickled material, which may have to do with high utilisation of capacities for the treatment, he believes.

This could be a valid explanation for the wide range of prices recently given by market participants for HRC, with some citing quotes well below €900/tonne ($1,022) ex-works but others staying well above that mark. “We had lows of €860-870, but only for unpickled coil,” the manager says, and adds that this product may still be available for a little under €900/t now.

Against that, he sees pickled material starting at €930/t, and reaching €980/t. This is in line with other observers in Germany and the Benelux who do not make the pickled/unpickled differentiation, but believe the market is opening up to higher prices in general. As one Dutch buyer puts it, “some offers with relatively low base prices are still appearing here and there, but those opportunities are decreasing”.

Christian Koehl Germany