London -- Some northwest European buyers are exhibiting appetite for imported tonnes at €495/t cif Antwerp, but traders are reluctant to transact at such levels.
Asian material is workable around this level but for June arrival, which is a long lead time compared with domestic mills. Most European mills said they are now into May rolling but buyers still think they can get end-April delivery. Italian mills still have April rollings available.
Demand is not great, but mill sources hope lead times will begin to move out as buyers take domestic material because of the lack of arbitrage for imported tonnes. But import arrivals are strong and there is enough material at ports and service centres for people to buy small tonnages as and when required, rather than committing to large clips. As a result, some think the market will continue to drift for the next month or so, until buyers really need to replenish their stock levels.
The 1.3mn t European safeguard quota for hot-rolled coil up to the end of March is around 60pc utilised, with 520,000t left and another 50,957t to be allocated. Flat steel shipments of EU distributors fell by 4.5pc in January from the same month last year, although stocks are one day lower at 67 days, Eurometal said.
TheArgusdomestic northwest European index was stable at €507.50/t ex-works today in continually illiquid trading. But the discount for Italian material compared with northwest European HRC increased to €26.25/t from €22.75/t, as mills in the country were still offering April tonnages after the market slowed over the past week or two.
Some larger southern European buyers placed Turkey-origin import bookings at around €485/t cif levels in the past 7-10 days and the market has quietened down dramatically since.