North-western European coil buyers agree that an uptick in prices is unlikely for the second half of August. They are less in agreement however, as to what current price levels are, and as to whether or not some softening has occurred. As one German trader tells Kallanish, “… if prices stay flat for long, it is more likely for them to lose than to gain.”
However, he sees hot-rolled coil staying relatively steady at the price level seen for the past two months of little less than €480/tonne ($533/t) ex-works. A Dutch service centre manager largely agrees on a level of €470-480/t, saying that “… prices are fairly stable and we expect to see some movement only in the course of next month.”
While the former German trader denies price rumours of €460/t as “… too low”, another trading source claims exactly that as being realistic. “€480 would be beautiful – I haven’t seen that in quite a while,” he says, indicating that prices of down to €455/t are possible. Looking forward, he says that “… I am not making forecasts anymore,” pointing at the wide array of economic factors that are confusing the market picture.
Meanwhile, the Dutch manager says that some steelmakers have announced that they will raise prices, but it is not yet possible to predict what the overall price trend will be. Some mills were heard trying to implement a preemptive increase in hot-dip galvanized coil prices last week, but the effect of this remains to be seen (see Kallanish 19 August).