Recent HRC activity engenders cautious optimism in EU market

Participants in the European hot-rolled coil market were cautiously optimistic Dec. 21, expecting the recent recovery to continue in the first quarter.

The market was quiet leading into the holidays, with most distributors having restocked material to fill gaps in inventories.

“People booked what they need to for January,” a distributor source said, positive on next month’s trading. “I think we’ll see trading activity recover in January with restocking for the rest of the first quarter.”

A mill source agreed with the sentiment, evidenced by deals at higher levels as compared with previous weeks.

“There were deals at very low prices a few weeks ago, but now we’ve already managed to get a Eur30/mt increase or so,” the source said.

“Buyers are ready to pay higher prices, it seems. It’s a good indication of continued recovery.”

Indeed, deals in the market were generally higher, though some trades did settle lower on a delivered basis at Eur650/mt delivered Northern Europe, the equivalent of Eur620-630/mt ex-works.

Other deals, especially from German mills, were heard at Eur670-680/mt ex-works Ruhr.

This price level was generally more in line with tradable value indications, reported at Eur650-660/mt and Eur650-670/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Platts assessed hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe stable on the day, at Eur665/mt ex-works Ruhr.

Italian HRC was assessed higher at Eur650/mt ex-works on tradable value indications reported at Eur650/mt ex-works Italy, derived from firm offers at Eur680/mt delivered.

Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.

— Benjamin Steven, Maria Tanatar