Europe plate: Market slow to resume

London, 14 January (Argus) — Sentiment in the European plate market has been mixed this month, as Italian mills pushed for higher prices after offering discounts in late December, but competition remained high.

The Argus monthly ex-works Italy plate assessment fell by €20/t to €840/t, but ex-works plate in northwest Europe was flat at €970/t.

Italian producers lowered plate prices to €840-850/t ex-works for base grade in the second half of December in order to boost their competitiveness, but have started to lift offers to €860/t ex-works, reflecting increased energy costs and anticipating that slab prices will pick up. At the same time, some suppliers were heard willing to provide at least €10/t discounts to the latest workable prices to fill their order books, as well as in the face of cheap import offers and sufficient margins.

Plate offers from different Asian countries were heard at €820/t cfr and slightly below to main European ports. But complications with quotas and finances made imports from Indonesia and India less attractive, with a South Korean supplier targeting other markets, a European participant said. In particular, an offer of S355J2 grade was heard at $970/t cfr to north Africa from South Korea.

Northwest European producers were sold out in December and resisted the downward pressure. Actual trading is yet to resume, as many participants have only returned from holidays this week.