Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, ex-works Northern Europe was at €439.39 ($488.79) per tonne on Friday December 20 compared with €439.24 per tonne on Thursday.

The calculation of the index was based on deals and achievable prices reported at €435-440 per tonne ex-works.

In the meantime, offers for domestic material in the region have been heard at €440-450 per tonne ex-works.

The daily index increased by €7.69 per tonne week on week, driven by last-minute restocking before Christmas. Additionally, import offers have been limited; market participants described current import prices as “uncompetitive” compared with domestic offers.

The latest official offers for Russian-origin HRC have been reported at €450 per tonne cfr Antwerp, including anti-dumping duty.

Lead times from European mills have also increased by two or three weeks, which underscores the recovery in demand, according to market sources.

Several European steelmakers have reduced their output over the third and fourth quarters of 2019 to balance lower demand with supply. Market sources believe that they will continue to apply the same tactic to maintain current prices or even achieve further price rises in January.

For example, ArcelorMittal and Salzgitter in Germany, SSAB in Sweden and Arvedi in Italy, have announced stoppages to balance supply and demand. Other steelmakers are also managing coil product output to meet demand, sources said.

In the meantime, some buyers are skeptical that such a rapid price rise this week has a substantial foundation other than a short-lived spike in restocking.

Other sources, however, believe that the price rise is likely to continue next year unless mills increase output or import prices drop.

Italian mills have been trading HRC at €420-440 per tonne ex-works today.