Numerous European coil mills have reduced their output, idling blast furnaces here and rolling mills there, but a resulting market supply shortage that would lift prices is yet to be felt.

Inventories at stockholders and consumers are still very full, according to sources in various countries. “Mills have taken the necessary measures, but the output volumes are still not in balance with the low demand,” a Dutch buyer tells Kallanish. A manager of an Austrian service centre concurs, voicing the impression that mills are still vying for volumes to utilise the reduced capacities.

However, a Benelux service centre manager sees light on the horizon. “The reduction of output will lead to longer lead times, and that’s when distributors will get nervous,” he cautions. He argues that distributors and big consumers will anticipate stretching delivery times, “and they will start replenishing to avoid shortages, and prices will rise alongside”.

Sources so far agree in that they do not see prices sinking below summer levels any more. For hot rolled coil, this means a current price range of €750-800/tonne ($732-781) ex-works in the Benelux, Germany and Austria. With similar price levels currently in Italy, Austria’s price advantage over Germany has temporarily disappeared.

The premium of cold rolled coil over HRC is at €80-100/t, while that of galvanized coil will be between €100 and €135. Within these ranges, prices differ quite a bit from one mill to another, the Austrian manager notes.