EU steel plate inventories low, demand weakens


The European steel plate market was slightly higher Jan. 29 as high slab costs and depleted stocks increased plate prices, and the market calm with few enquiries due to a slowing construction sector, sources told S&P Global Platts.

North European plate offer prices were heard at Eur710/mt ex-works Ruhr, with tradable values heard between Eur680-685/mt ex-works Ruhr.

On the demand situation, an Italian trader said there were few inquiries in a ‘calm’ plate market, with Eur660/mt ex-works Italy considered workable, and offers at Eur680/mt ex-works Italy.

Lead times were heard to be longer for plate, with depleted inventories in Germany heard to be at 30-year lows.

“There are no extraordinary sales, inventories are low. The trend in Germany was always down. Inventories were reducing each month. Its been historic lows for plate inventories for the last 4-5 months,” an Italy-based mill source said. “Inventories were like this for the majority of 2020, stockholders were not buying enough and consequently not selling enough.”

Unlike the coil surge being driven by the automotive industry, the plate market has struggled due to a weakening demand from the construction sector, which normally consumes between 35%-50% of all plate in Europe.

“Coils are much better covered than plate – buyers have already booked for March-April delivery, while in plate they are just entering requirements for March,” the trader said. “Therefore, in Q2, plate should be a lot more supported.”

A Benelux trader said it would take more time for Plate prices to reach their peak and said there was still sustained interest from the construction sector in Spain.

“The demand is still there, there is a stabilized market,” the trader said.

Plate import prices from the Far East were heard at Eur640/mt CIF Italy Ports.

— Amanda Flint