EUROPE HRC WRAP: Domestic prices continue to rise on lack of imports

Domestic prices for steel hot-rolled coil moved up in Northern Europe in the week ended Friday July 17, supported by the continuing lack of competitive import offers.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, domestic, exw Northern Europe, rose to €407.53 ($465.65) per tonne on Friday, up by €3.53 per tonne week on week, and up by €17.53 per tonne month on month.

Friday’s index was based on deals heard at €400-415 per tonne ex-works, as well as “workable” prices reported at €410 per tonne ex-works.

Official offers of HRC from the region’s steelmakers were heard at €430-450 per tonne ex-works, but these were not considered workable by buyers. Such high offers, however, indicated the intention of the mills to achieve price rises, market sources said.

And Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel HRC, domestic, exw Southern Europe, was €385-400 per tonne on July 15, compared with €385-405 per tonne a week earlier.

The assessment was based on deals and offers heard in the market.

Domestic prices have been supported by the lack of import offers resulting from a combination of still relatively low domestic coil prices in Europe, compared with other global markets, and the effects of the second steel imports safeguard case review that came into force in the EU on July 1 this year.

Long lead times for imported HRC also contributed to buyers showing more interest in domestic material, market sources said.

In addition, raw material costs remained high, pushing steelmakers to increase transaction prices, they added.

Fastmarkets’ daily index for iron ore 62% Fe fines, cfr Qingdao, was calculated at $110.31 per tonne on July 17, up by $3.99 per tonne week on week.

Demand, in the meantime, remained relatively low, although it has picked up after the Covid-19 lockdown measures were eased in the EU. And sources believed that trading activity would improve in late August-September, following the traditional cycle of the European market.

The European Automotive Manufacturers Association (ACEA) reported a 22.34% year-on-year decrease in car sales in June. This, however, was a recovery compared with a decrease of 52.30% year-on-year in May and with a fall of 76.32% year-on-year in April this year. The automotive sector is a major consumer of EU flat steel.

Last week, ArcelorMittal announced plans to restart operations at its Dunkirk blast furnace (BF) in France in the middle of August this year, after it was stopped in the second half of March due to the effects on demand of the Covid-19 lockdown.

And equipment supplier SMS Group said on July 13 that, after a revamp, it has put back into service the two-strand slab caster No2 at ArcelorMittal Asturias, at Avilés in Spain.

Meanwhile, Italian flat steel producer Arvedi was beginning to shut down some equipment in the middle of July, market sources have told Fastmarkets.

Some sources claimed that Arvedi had already stopped steelmelting by mid-July for about a month, to allow it to replace its electric-arc furnace (EAF) with a new one.