French plate shortage continues, Italian prices hike

The short supply of French heavy plates is hampering sales and slowing the market. The current shortage is connected to coil’s limited availability and the priority given from the country’s largest steelmaker to coil-making from slabs, distribution sources tell Kallanish.

Prices for plates have been pushed up steadily over the past weeks in France and grade S275 is being sold by distributors at over €800-810/tonne ex-works ($951-963/t).

“I sell a large range of plates and I normally have a 10% lack of availability. This month the share of unavailable material has gone up to 80%,” one source comments.

Meanwhile, across the border, Italian S275 is now at €700/t ex-works on average in the latest contracts and €15/t more for the higher 355 grade. The gap in price between Italian and French material is mostly due to later Italian availability, which is offset by weak and fluctuating demand. Last month plate contracts for S275 were at €640-650-660/t ex-works on average and produces had short lead-time. In March, prices have been pushed up thanks to a surge in demand at the beginning of the month. This has suddenly lengthened lead-time, pushed back to May for some producers. Italian plate re-rollers are selling high volumes to France at French prices, sources say

Despite having been the sick product of the Italian steel industry, plates producers have compensated for the unreliable domestic demand with exports to Europe. One producer says that in 2020 plates sales have slightly grown compared to the previous year but domestic prices remain too low in light of the high values of imported slabs.

CIS slab was sold last week by a Ukrainian producer to Turkey at the expected level of $750/tonne cfr, netting back to $730/t fob Black Sea (see Kallanish 17 March).

Natalia Capra France