UK HRC extends losses amid weak demand, uncertainty around safeguards

The UK market for steel hot rolled coil extended losses in the week ended March 7, as weak demand and ongoing uncertainty surrounding the review of the country’s steel safeguard measures by the Trade Remedies Authority continued to weigh on prices.

Sources reported subdued buying interest, with UK distributors adopting a cautious approach to purchasing owing to weak end-user demand and adequate inventory levels.

They suggested that UK distributors are generally overstocked and described the end-user demand as “poor” with little sign of near-term improvement.

“The market is currently treading water owing to the poor state of demand and the lack of clarity surrounding the TRA’s review of the trade safety measure,” one trader said.

Offers from European mills were heard within a range of GBP640-650/mt DDP West Midlands, while offers for non-EU origin HRC were heard at GBP600-610/mt DDP West Midlands.

Platts assessed UK HRC at GBP635/mt ($812/mt) basis DDP West Midlands March 7, down GBP15/mt from Feb. 29.

On Feb. 9 the TRA announced that it would review the suspension of the safeguard import quotas in response to Tata Steel UK’s plan to idle its two blast furnaces later in 2024 and replace them with electric arc furnaces.

A meeting between the TRA and ISTA, the international steel trade association held in London on Feb. 28 failed to provide any further details about the likely outcome of the review.

At the time of the announcement, the TRA stated that its preliminary view would be to suspend the measure for nine months because Tata Steel is the UK’s sole HRC producer.

A decision to suspend the measure is likely to increase orders for non-EU HRC, which is currently priced at approximately GBP40/mt lower than EU-sourced material.