Steel HRC prices flatten in Europe amid trading slowdown

The prices for steel hot-rolled coil across Europe have flattened amid quiet trading, but the markets remained upbeat, Fastmarkets heard on Friday December 8.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, at €685.42 ($738.80) per tonne on December 8, up by €0.42 per tonne from €685.00 per tonne the previous day.

The index was up by €14.54 per tonne week on week and by €40.29 per tonne month on month.

According to market sources, producers in the region have mostly sold out January-delivery coil, and were now seeking higher prices for February deliveries.

Integrated producers in Germany were reported to be offering at €700-720 per tonne ex-works, with lead times reported at a minimum of eight weeks.

One mill was reported to be selling coil for slightly less this week, at €690-695 per tonne ex-works, but it was not clear whether that offer was still valid on December 8.

An offer of January-rolling HRC from a re-roller in the region was heard at €685 per tonne ex-works, compared with €650 per tonne ex-works for December-rolling coil.

Buyers’ estimates of achievable prices were heard at €680-700 per tonne ex-works, but only one source estimated the market as high as €700 per tonne ex-works on Friday. Most sources agreed, however, that there still was room for new price upticks, because availability in the market was reduced due to output cuts and because mills had good order books.

Buyers were worried, however, that expected restarts of blast-furnace operations at some European mills in the first quarter of 2024 might threaten the uptrend in the HRC market, because this has mainly been driven by reduced supply, rather than a rebound in real demand.

“Demand [for HRC] remains stable on the low side, so if we see capacities gradually coming back online in the first quarter, prices will start to decline again,” a trader in Germany said.

Meanwhile, Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel HRC index, domestic, exw Italy, at €665.42 per tonne on December 8, stable day-on-day.

The Italian index was up by €5.42 per tonne week on week and by €43.96 per tonne month on month.

Due to a public holiday in the nation on December 8, trading fell completely quiet in the local HRC market.

The previous day, offers of February-delivery coil were heard at €700-720 per tonne delivered (around €685-705 per tonne ex-works) from local mills, “with very limited room for negotiations.”

Buyers’ estimates of tradeable values were €660-670 per tonne ex-works, in line with transactions for January-delivery HRC in the country.

In the secondary market, HR sheet was traded around €750-760 per tonne CPT, largely stable over the past week.

Despite slow trading and difficulties in passing higher prices downstream, market sources believed that there was room for an HRC price rise in Italy, due to expected restocking and reduced supply at local mills.

Import prices were also trending higher recently, which supported the domestic uptrend as well.

During the week to Friday, offers of February-shipment HRC of Indian origin were heard at €650-655 per tonne CFR.

January-shipment HRC from Turkey was reported to be available to Italy at €670-680 per tonne CFR, including anti-dumping duty.

Asian suppliers have not really been active recently, but market sources pointed out that the cheapest offers at €620-630 per tonne CFR from Vietnam were no longer available.

“Imports [of HRC to the EU] practically disappeared this week,” a trading source said. “There was talk that overseas mills were looking at the US market, where prices are much higher than in Europe.”

Published by: Julia Bolotova