In the first quarter of 2023, the US Cold Rolled Coil Prices saw an unprecedented surge in prices as mills attempted to push prices up due to a tight market and longer lead times. Supply constraints were exacerbated by planned outages and failed mill ramp-ups, prompting steelmakers to take command of output levels. Steelmakers tightened their grip on production levels, dropping capacity utilization rates below 80%. However, demand dynamics remained at a lower level despite rising prices, making buyers hesitant to make forward purchases. The market reacted sluggishly to the price hike announcement, and spot inquiries dwindled as buyers attempted to determine whether a peak had been reached. CRC lead times reached an all-time high at the end of March, but the increased lead times did not appear to increase demand or allow mills to reserve more expensive spot tonnes. As a result, buyers continued to assess their order books and limit contract purchases to manage their inventories as the price cycle continued downward. As a ripple effect, the CR Coil (1 mm) prices for Ex Midwest are assessed at USD 1230/MT.
In the first quarter of 2023, the Chinese market witnessed an upsurge in Cold Rolled Coil prices due to rising downstream automotive inquiries and fluctuating raw material prices. However, weak market fundamentals and a challenging macroeconomic environment compelled prices to remain volatile ahead of the Spring Festival celebrations. Additionally, the ongoing property sector recession and slow growth in manufactured exports affected Cold Rolled Coil consumption. Domestic Cold Rolled Coil mills enjoyed price advantages against rising overseas Steel Plate Prices since January, resulting in their eagerness to accept overseas orders, and some had received so many that their production would last until March. However, terminal demand grew more slowly due to dropping prices and weather conditions. The Cold Rolled Coil output increased this quarter as the maintenance impact faded. At the end of Q1, the fall in total inventory and social inventory narrowed while in-plant inventory climbed. Falling CRC prices led to terminal refilling, resulting in a decrease in inventories. The CR Coil (SPCC-1 mm) prices for Ex Tianjin are currently fixed at USD 735/MT due to the ripple effect.
In Q1 2023, the European Cold Rolled Coil market experienced an uptrend in prices. Domestic manufacturers maintained high offers for cold-rolled, citing good order books and limited availability. However, buyers resisted higher prices due to still-slow end-user demand. Steelmakers offered second-quarter production material after selling out of the first-quarter rolling coil. Some mills in Germany and Italy reduced the availability of CRC by no longer offering the material. Despite buyer skepticism about the sustainability of the positive trend and limited trading activity, European steelmakers insisted on higher prices for the raw material hot-rolled coil. Steel mills producing CRC ran at reduced rates in mid-Q1, keeping the market balanced. Most mills in Europe offer May-June delivery CRC coil, while some German mills were sold out for June delivery. The current CRC scarcity persisted at the end of the first quarter of 2023 due to Acciaierie d'Italia production challenges, Tata Steel disruptions, no import bids from Turkey, and uncompetitive Asian prices. As a ripple effect, the CR Coil (1 mm) prices for Ex Ruhr were fixed at USD 1060/MT.
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