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European HRC prices edge higher amid continuing low demand

The European hot-rolled coil (HRC) market saw a slight price increase on Monday, July 8, despite ongoing weak demand for steel. This development follows the introduction of new EU safeguard measures on July 1, which have curtailed the availability of cheap imports.

Price Trends and Market Reactions

Northern Europe:

  • Offers: Prices for September-delivery HRC were mainly quoted at €640-650 ($693-704) per tonne ex-works.
  • Buyer Sentiment: Buyers remain hesitant to accept these prices, considering the tradable level to be around €620-630 per tonne ex-works.
  • Price Index: Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index for Northern Europe was calculated at €633.75 per tonne on Monday, an increase of €2.75 from €631.00 per tonne on July 5. This represents a €5.00 per tonne increase week on week but no change month on month.

Southern Europe:

  • Italy Market: In Italy, the domestic HRC price index was €626.25 per tonne on Monday, up by €2.15 from €624.10 per tonne on July 5. This is an increase of €6.25 per tonne week on week but a decrease of €4.58 per tonne month on month.
  • Offers and Tradable Prices: Offers in Italy were €640-650 per tonne delivered, equating to €630-640 per tonne ex-works. Buyers, however, placed the workable price at €620-630 per tonne ex-works.

Market Dynamics and Supply Constraints

  • Demand Concerns: Despite the price hikes, the market remains quiet with subdued demand. Market participants had anticipated that the mills would push for higher prices due to reduced competition from cheap imports.
  • Import Quotas: Many Asian suppliers have already surpassed their EU import quotas for the third quarter, leading to a scarcity of offers from Asia. This situation may force some buyers to custom clear only parts of their already delivered material to avoid paying additional duties.
  • Alternative Suppliers: Offers from Turkey were reported at $580 per tonne FOB, which nets back to €615-620 per tonne CFR, inclusive of anti-dumping duties. Other offers from India, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea were in the range of €600-610 per tonne CFR.

Conclusion

The slight increase in HRC prices in Europe reflects the influence of new EU safeguard measures, which have limited the availability of cheaper imports and pushed domestic mills to raise prices. However, buyer resistance at higher price levels indicates that demand is not robust enough to support significant price hikes. The market remains in a state of flux, with ongoing negotiations between buyers and sellers likely to determine future price directions.

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