EUROPE HRC: Domestic prices climb in the south; largely stable in the north

Domestic prices for hot-rolled coil have moved up in the south of Europe this week, supported by reduced output from the region’s mills and higher import offers, sources told Fastmarkets on Wednesday December 11.

In the meantime, domestic HRC prices in the north of the EU stood largely unchanged day on day, although sentiment remains largely positive due to reduced production and a lack of competitive import offers.

Domestic prices
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel hot-rolled coil, domestic, ex-works Southern Europe, was €420-430 ($465-476) per tonne on December 11, up by €5-10 per tonne week on week from €415-420 per tonne.

The assessment reflects “workable” prices heard in the market, with steelmakers targeting €440-450 per tonne ex-works, making the official offers in the south similar to those in Northern Europe.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, ex-works Northern Europe, was €432.65 per tonne on December 11, edging up from €433.08 per tonne on Tuesday.

The index is calculated based on “workable” prices for the material – said to be €425-435 per tonne ex-works on Wednesday – along with the lower end of the official offers.

The region’s mills have been offering HRC at €440-450 per tonne ex-works.

In the south of Europe, the price rise was mainly driven by a substantial fall in production, caused by both scheduled maintenance at Italian producer Arvedi and low output at ArcelorMittal Italia, formerly known as Ilva.

Total production of HRC at both plants, including material used in downstream production, is about 80,000 tonnes per month, according to market sources.

ArcelorMIttal is currently in talks with the Italian authorities over the future of the plant, but earlier this week, a court in Milan ordered the company to shut down blast furnace No 2 in relation to a fatal accident at the plant in 2015.

In November, ArcelorMittal announced its intention to idle equipment at the plant, having decided to exit the deal to purchase the asset after the Italian authorities removed the legal protections that would allow it to implement its environmental plan without the risk of criminal liability.

Domestic prices in the north of Europe were also supported by production cuts at a number of plants and a slight improvement in demand, which was mainly attributed to restocking activity.

In addition, improving sentiment in Europe’s HRC markets was supported by high import offers, which were not competitive with domestic material, according to market sources.

Import prices
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel HRC, import, cfr main port Southern Europe, was €440-460 per tonne on December 11, up from €430-435 per tonne ex-works a week earlier and based on offers from Turkey and Egypt.

Bigger buyers in the south also claimed that about €430-435 per tonne cfr was possible, but these figures were not included into the price assessment as most sources could not confirm that such prices would be available.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel HRC, import, cfr main port Northern Europe, was €435-440 per tonne this week, compared with €410-440 per tonne a week earlier. The assessment represents the latest deals for the material.