European plate demand falls, Germany contends with low stock levels

The European plate market remained relatively stable Feb. 12 as the market deals with deteriorating demand from the construction sector, with more inquiries coming from distribution.

“It’s a quiet market! Distribution is getting more cautious as end-user business is not really picking up,” a European mill source said. “Europe is a bubble.”

Imports have been picking up steam in the European market, with lead times and prices almost equal those of domestic prices. Imports from Indonesia were heard at Eur625/mt FCA Antwerp.

German inventories are now at 5-year record lows, specifically for quarto plate, with 2020 stock levels 20% lower than that of 2019.

Inventories averaged 417,000 mt in January 2020, down from the 498,000 mt in January 2019.

“You will see that 2020 was a year of complete destocking – stocks went down 20%,” an Italy-based mill source said.

In the Italian market, Eur680/mt was not realized over the past few weeks, with the market slow and no big requests from customers.

“It’s not a sustainable trend, but the market is not completely dead, there is some consumption,” an Italy mill source said.

Sources said despite the faltering demand, production was stable and re-rollers were still flexible on production, with only slight variations on utilization rates.

— Amanda Flint