European plate market sees further hikes amid tight supply, higher slab costs

European plate prices jumped above Eur1,000/mt EXW across Europe following tighter material availability and higher slab costs, sources said May 21.

Several mills and rerollers were heard out of the market due to a mix between full order books, technical problems and slab costs.

One reroller was heard preferring to sell slab on the international market or use it for coils production rather than plate rolling.

The plate market, however, also benefited from the coils shortage as one source said some buyers started to buy thinner plate and use it instead of coils despite different surface properties.

Heavy plate prices have been trailing behind hot-rolled prices since early October 2020, when the coils material shortage started to be so severe that the usual Eur70-90/mt price gap — with heavy plate more expensive than HRC — turned the opposite way.

“Italians are definitely eager to close the gap,” said a European stockist, adding that fresh offers were heard at Eur1,050/mt EXW Italy for S235 grade.

A German SSC source said that even though rerollers have hiked offers, lead times have not lengthened.

“Maybe they are not getting booked that well. Big projects are missing, there hasn’t been anything major since the Nordstream pipeline project,” the source said.

As one German mill was heard fully booked and one only offering limited material, German buyers continued to look elsewhere. Thyssenkrupp’s plate mill has been fully idled since March this year.

Italian and Ruhr prices were heard neck and neck and opportunities below Eur1,000/mt EXW across Europe have been reported to be gone with further increases expected to come. One Eastern European mill was expected to come back to the market with a Eur50/mt hike.

— Laura Varriale