ArcelorMittal has increased its steel coil offer prices by Eur50/mt to Eur970/mt across Europe for hot-rolled coil and Eur1120/mt for cold-rolled and hot-dip galvanized coils, further extending the European price rally fueled by persistent material shortages, sources told S&P Global Platts April 15.
The last increase comes on the back of a series of hikes over the past few months. The last move – when AM hiked its coils prices by Eur20/mt – took place just a week prior and was interpreted as a slowdown of the rally as previous price hikes were more substantial. But sources reported further surging transaction prices soon after the announcement. The daily Platts HRC assessment for Northern Europe increased Eur28/mt over the course of one week to Eur908/mt EXW Ruhr on April 14. The assessment remains at an all-time high since breaking the Eur800/mt record of 2008 on March 25.
Sources raised concerns that the market price of steel would increasingly become detached from the product value if prices keep rising. "I am not surprised [about the offer hike], but it is definitely not suitable for the market," a German distributor said.
One European stockist described the current situation as "everything is possible now," reporting that levels at Eur920/mt EXW Ruhr could be achieved April 15.
Shortage despite production ramp-ups
Market chatter once again turned to the question of how European mills will be increasing production, while imports remain uncompetitive as steel prices in other regions, such as the US, have increased even more rapidly than Europe. This makes Europe a less attractive destination, particularly as the World Steel Association said April 15 global steel demand is likely to increase by 5.8% this year to 1.874 billion mt.
Ramp-ups by European flat steel mills, predominantly taking the blast furnace production route, have been cautious but steady since end of summer 2020.
The latest figures from worldsteel showed that crude steel production in the EU fell 7% from January to February to 6 million mt as mills were hampered by severe weather disruptions. The year-on-year drop stood at 7.8%, falling below last year's February production after getting close to previous year levels in January, down just 1.2% on year.
Source: S&P Platts