EUROPE HRC: No clear trend in market amid coronavirus concerns

The trend in the European market for hot-rolled coil remained blurry due to the lockdown in Italy intended to restrict the spread of coronavirus, sources told Fastmarkets on Thursday March 12.

The consequences of the outbreak of 2019-nCoV coronavirus that led to the lockdown have also resulted in stoppages at some long steel producers in the country.

But Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, was €482.50 ($545.58) per tonne on March 12, up by €1.50 per tonne day on day from €481.00 per tonne on March 11.

Thursday’s index was calculated based on deals and “workable” prices heard at €475-490 per tonne ex-works. But the trend in the market was uncertain due to concerns about the measures being used to combat the coronavirus outbreak, market sources said.

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

Others, however, were reported to be willing to give discounts to buyers.

The coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown in Italy have had no effect on flat steel production but there have been problems with some flat steel shipments, sources said.

Some buyers of Italian coil in Germany and Austria have been complaining about delays and disruptions to orders arriving by truck. These problems were reported to be caused by a lack of drivers and by the complicated procedures at border crossings, according to market sources.

No logistics problems have been heard when material was shipped either by rail or by sea, however.

Market sources believed that if the problems with logistics were to escalate, they might result in disruptions to flat steel production.

Lower availability of coil from Italy in the north of Europe, due to the logistics issues and to the generally higher risks related to ordering material from the southern country, could make Northern European buyers turn toward domestic producers, therefore supporting the region’s prices, according to market sources.

Italian steel producers have been offering and trading HRC at €440-450 per tonne ex-works.

Import offers for HRC have been moving down this week partially due to the euro strengthening against the US dollar, adding downward pressure on domestic prices. But the US dollar has now started to recover.

The euro has lost 1.01% against the dollar since March 9, according to exchange rate service Oanda. It was trading at €1 to $1.131 on March 12, compared with €1 to $1.129 on March 9.

Russian HRC has been offered to Northern Europe at €470 per tonne fca Antwerp, according to market sources. And offers of Turkish and Asian coil in Northern Europe have been reported at €465-470 per tonne cfr Antwerp.

A deal for HRC originating from Asia has been heard at €445 per tonne cfr Italian ports.