European buyers push for lower heavy plate prices; mills try to resist

Heavy plate prices in Europe were broadly stable over the past week, despite constant push for a decrease from buyers.

Restocking was limited in the country during September, with buyers constantly pressuring prices down.

Notably, bids from stockholders for commodity-grade heavy plate were reported at €670-680 ($711-722) per tonne ex-works. Re-rollers said that selling at such costs might only be profitable for someone who’s using Russia-origin slab.

Producers were trying to maintain offers for the spot market at €720-730 per tonne ex-works, while rare transactions were heard at €700-720 per tonne ex-works.

Italian re-rollers could still offer end-October delivery plate to the market.

For long-term projects, plate offers were ranging €730-750 per tonne ex-works, sources said.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel domestic plate 8-40mm, exw Southern Europe remained at €700-720 per tonne on Wednesday September 27, stable week on week.

Import plate offers to Italy were rare in the past week, with the dollar strengthening against the euro further limiting interest for overseas bookings. The gap with domestic prices was also too low to spur any demand for import plate.

Notably, plate offers from South Korea and Indonesia were reported at €680-690 per tonne CFR for November shipment.

Northern Europe
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel domestic plate 8-40mm, exw Northern Europe was €820-840 per tonne on Wednesday, stable week on week.

German mills continued avoiding giving firm offers on the spot market, according to participants, with indications heard at €840-880 per tonne in the week to Wednesday. The upper end, however, was deemed totally unworkable due to available cheaper alternatives from other European suppliers.

Buyers’ estimations of achievable values were heard at €800-820 per tonne ex-works.

There was market chatter about sales from a German mill down in the spot market at the price below €800 per tonne ex-works for S355JR-grade heavy plate, but it was not widely confirmed by all sources.

“German mills are traditionally more focused on project business, particular selling higher grades [of steel plate] like foundations for offshore and windfarms, bridges, etc. Spot market is not a priority for them, only sporadic volumes to close gaps in order books, to regular customers,” a trading source said.

Restocking was also going slow in the region, despite inventories trending lower. Stockholders claimed slow sales and low prices downstream, and therefore were not rushing with fresh bookings.

Offers from one Nordic mill were heard around €790 per tonne EXW for about eight weeks delivery, same as a week earlier.

A re-roller from the Czech Republic was offering S235-grade plate to Poland and the Czech Republic at €735-740 per tonne EXW.

But sources said that the lowest prices were only possible from the producers that are using Russia-origin slab.

Published by: Julia Bolotova