European steel plate market bearish, remaining demand weak

European steel plate buyers are hesitant to book transactions due to uncertainty around demand in the region, sources told S&P Global Platts Friday.

The Platts TSI plate indexes were assessed Friday at Eur512/mt ex-works Ruhr and at Eur476/mt ex-works South Europe, unchanged week on week and a decline of Eur3, respectively.

Prices have dropped on limited spot activity, with buyers unwilling to purchase material with longer lead times, said a German mill source.

An import offer was heard at Eur425/mt CIF South European ports ex-Korea, with one German mill source saying “the import plate market has moved to this level.”

For the Southern European plate market, the same source said: “It’s hard to say where the market is for big tonnage – I get the feeling that Eur480/mt ex-works South Europe will not be achievable for new business orders.”

In terms of weakening demand, the source said the outlook for plate was similar to that of the steel coils markets.

“Plate is definitely similar to coils when it comes to demand right now. There is still some plate material left in the pipeline, with end-users trying to take the material effectively. They tried to get additional material for their stocks, but because of low demand they will be facing a slowdown in orders,” the source said.

A Benelux-based source echoed this sentiment, and said there were no projects for plate as a result of limited buying interest in the market.

Adding: “There is no demand currently, maybe in the long run governments will want to invest in infrastructure.

The source said plate prices remained relatively stable, however, giving a tradable value of Eur510/mt-Eur540/mt ex-works Ruhr.

“It’s not following [hot-rolled coil] at this moment, there are no drops [in price] yet,” the source said.

A German mill source added that liquidity in the market was low, with stockholders not taking as much material despite there being a sufficient amount of supply in the market.

“Material is available for the next month, but in Italy there are still shutdowns. The supply is there, but demand is not, and mills can’t afford to lower their prices,” he said.

The source said he was not optimistic about an increase in prices in the short term, and was not expecting a recovery in prices any earlier than late June, considering the overall decline in the market.

— Amanda Flint, Len Griffin, Laura Varriale