EUROPE HRC: Buyers’ sentiment bearish on cheaper imports

Sentiment in the European market for hot-rolled coil has been bearish due to lower import offers available in the market, sources told Fastmarkets on Wednesday March 11.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, was €481.00 ($545.94) per tonne on Wednesday March 11, down by €0.07 per tonne day on day from €481.07 per tonne on March 10.

This followed a drop of €3.55 per tonne day on day on March 10.

Wednesday’s index was calculated based on deals heard at €475-480 per tonne ex-works, “workable” prices heard at €480-485 per tonne ex-works and official offers reported at €500-520 per tonne ex-works.

In addition, some buyers claimed that the steelmakers were in a position to give discounts on HRC and sell it at €465-470 per tonne ex-works.

Domestic prices have been supported by good order books at the region’s steelmakers – they have been offering up to 13 weeks for shipments of HRC, market sources said.

But the positive effect from this was offset, according to market participants, by a decline in import offers caused by exchange-rate fluctuations.

The euro has gained 1.84% against the dollar week-on-week, and 2.97% since the start of the month, according to exchange rate service Oanda. It was trading at €1 to $1.135 on March 11, compared with €1 to $1.115 on March 4.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel HRC, import, cfr main port Northern Europe, was €460-475 per tonne on March 11, down by €10-20 per tonne week on week from €480-485 per tonne on March 4.

HRC from Turkey and Japan has been offered to Germany at €460-475 per tonne cfr Antwerp, but no deals have been heard so far.

In addition, some sources said that imported material of unspecified origin was available at €455-460 per tonne cfr.

Sentiment in the market, however, might change due the effect of the lockdown in Italy intended to control the outbreak of 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

The reduced interest among Northern European buyers for Italian coil products might have a short-lived positive effect on domestic prices in the north of the EU, market sources said.

In the meantime, flat steel production in Italy has continued without disruptions, market participants said. But producers did face some logistics issues, sources said, notably with deliveries of steel to Germany and Austria by truck.

Some market participants have been concerned that the Italian authorities might toughen the quarantine measures in Italy and production would have to be stopped.

But the majority of flat steel buyers both within Italy and in neighboring countries have reported no issues with shipments, although they did believe that some delays were likely soon due to a shortage of truck drivers and complicated procedures for border crossing.

Some buyers in Germany and Austria claimed to have already faced disruptions of deliveries of flat steel by truck. But they also believed that the delays would not be long and were unlikely to have significant consequences for the market.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel HRC, domestic, ex-works Southern Europe, was €435-450 per tonne on March 11, compared with €440-450 per tonne a week earlier. The assessment was based on deals heard in the market.

Official offers, in the meantime, have been heard as high as €450-470 per tonne ex-works.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel HRC, import, cfr main port Southern Europe, was €450-460 per tonne on March 11, down by €10-15 per tonne week on week from €460-475 per tonne.

The assessment was based on deals and offers for material from Turkey.

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