European plate price recovers on bullish sentiment, project investment

European plate prices showed signs of recovery Nov. 19, following sustained bullish sentiment from the market, with German producers reportedly offering over Eur1,000/mt ex-works Ruhr for orders.

In the Italian market, the trend was slightly more subdued, with tradable values still in between Eur880-900/mt ex-works Italy.

An Italian buyer said it had taken longer than expected to reach Eur900/mt ex-works Italy, with expectations of higher energy prices and higher slab costs fueling the bullish outlook on pricing.

“We were hoping to achieve something more this week, but it seems as if it was had to pass through an additional Eur20/mt, so we stuck with the Eur900/mt price level,” the source said. “It turned out to be satisfactory, it is a matter of keeping a balance.”

German producers were heard to be “not in the game” for spot plate and more heavily involved in contract business, though offers were heard from one German distributor at Eur1,030/mt delivered Europe, likely for smaller, one-off spot orders.

A European service center source cited a tradable value for S235 plate material at Eur980/mt delivered Europe, and S355 material heard higher at Eur1,000/mt delivered Europe.

“I think we need spot business [In Germany] its not enough for just long-term business,” the distributor said. “The money from the European community and from the government for coronavirus support to boost infrastructure projects would increase the demand for plate.”

The source cautioned this uptick in demand would not be visible for Q1 and more later on in the year.

Overall, the source was more optimistic about a recovery in plate, rather than HRC.

“If the market is recovered for semiconductors, auto will come back with a boom. No one knows when that will be, maybe May-June and prices will shoot up. For plate that will happen earlier,” they told Platts.

— Amanda Flint, Laura Varriale