European north-south plate price gap widening

The gap between Italian plate prices and levels in northwestern Europe is widening again, Kallanish hears from market participants.

A convergence of prices for flat products north and south of the Alps had been observed since the middle of last year. Some observers even forecast that this could be the standard in future. However, Italian plate prices have fallen back since mid-February, after failed attempts by Italian mills to attain the level of northern mills, with €850/t ($922) delivered as the basis for S355.

On both sides of the Alps, plate prices returned to a softening trend in February, with Italian mills quicker to make concessions than northern mills.

“It seems they are afraid they might not get their order books full before the holiday closure in August,” says a German distribution manager with strong connections to the Italy market.

One reason for falling Italian prices is the “relatively low demand in Germany. After all we are an important destination for them,” he tells Kallanish. Up until February, Italian prices rose more substantially, while northern prices moved sideways, he says.

A Dutch source concurs, as he saw northwestern plate prices stable at or above €850 since November, but currently observes a lower end around €820. A Scandinavian manager says he paid altogether higher prices for material from integrated works, with lower offers from the local re-roller group.

He, too, sees prices softening, albeit arriving with a delay up north. “There is a small indication of slipping prices,” that source comments.

Christian Koehl Germany