European plate prices increase on improved demand, squeezed stocks

European plate prices were heard higher in the market March 12 following renewed project demand, further increases in slab prices from the Black Sea, as well as dwindling stock levels, sources told S&P Global Platts.

Italian producers were becoming more optimistic on their offer prices, with offers heard in the vicinity of Eur700-710/mt ex-works Italy.

An Italian plate mill source said orders were starting to come in regularly, with further increases “very likely” given steadily increasing slab prices, as well as a performing euro currency.

Meanwhile, German stocks were heard to be low, with latest supply levels at less than 390,000 mt.

A European mill source said they were looking to offer minimum Eur50/mt higher than the current plate prices seen from Italy and Germany, given the longer order books and costlier slab prices.

However, contrary to others in the market, the same source noted lackluster demand for plate, particularly in North Europe.

“The market is not really picking. Purchasing managers are hesitating to buy volume at this price level as the ex-stock price is not following at the same speed,” the mill source said. “Buying from stock is still cheaper than ex-mill.”

Lead times from plate mills were similar to those of regular coils products seen at the end of May-June.

“I hope plate prices will follow the upward trend. At present time, we can monitor that in the market there is no effort to book,” the mill source lamented.

On the inverse, a German distribution source was seeing more luck on the demand side, claiming there was a noticeable improvement in demand from projects.

A second Italian mill source was also of the same view, adding, “there is more activity ongoing and buyers are raking in material because they haven’t had enough on stock.”

Sources noted there would soon be stronger restocking on plate than in coils, with the shortage on the former considered more pertinent.

German producers were heard offering Eur700/mt ex-works Ruhr, with workable levels heard between Eur670-680/mt ex-works.

“The overall demand for plate is now finally recovering across Europe,” the mill source said.

— Amanda Flint