Overseas plate imports into north-western Europe are not competitive with European offers, according to Germany buyers. Against that, offers from Italy still have good chances north of the Alps, and could become yet more competitive as prices for slab imports into Italy are seen tumbling.
The deterioration of imported slab prices has been spotted north of the Alps, too. “The market is quite transparent, and I expect that they (slab processers) will pull plate prices in Italy down to €500/t ($550) ex-works,” one trader says of grades S235/S275. He dismisses current offers of €520/t as “…wishful thinking by producers,” stating that the current slab price of $430/€390 cif will not allow for charging €520 for the final product.
Nevertheless, price impressions vary quite widely, possibly depending on tonnages. One Ruhr-based stockholder confirms the offer price of €500/t, and gives €560 as the delivered price. Against that, a stockholder on the Benelux border says his latest offers were not under €550, plus in his case €40 for delivery from northern Italian mills.
The divergence of price impressions is oddly in line with market participants’ earlier suggestions to Kallanish that some north-western European integrated mills’ prices were at under €560/t, others at €600/t. Again, it seems that bigger players cite notably lower prices.
Regarding the influence of falling prices in Italy on northern mills, one source notes these mills can hardly afford lower prices, given the cost of input materials. Further down the road, “…they will not be able to bring prices up, but they will strive for stability,” he says.