Italy plate prices soften as market confronted with cheaper imports

The European plate market saw a slight divide between north and south, with North European prices still firm on low availability and longer lead times, while the Italian market is seeing a slight downturn, sources told S&P Global Platts June 25.

In the Italian market, sources noted some softening of plate prices, with material in Italy still plentiful amid a plethora of cheaper imports now available to customers.

“Plate prices are going back, and re-rollers are offering more,” an Italian trader said. “This is the only product where the gap between Italy and the rest of Europe is widening.”

Despite this, Italian producers are still in a slightly more advantageous position to offer for spot, with some volumes still available for as early as July, with mills now trying to sell for August.

“The main advantage of Italy is the short lead times and the fact that [Italian producers] offered to everybody and not just their big customers,” a German distributor said. “Whereas [German producers] are longer in lead times and they concentrate on projects and big customers.”

The same source said that while some Italian mills were offering Eur1,050/mt ex-works Italy for 200 mt, they would be willing to negotiate to between Eur1,010-1,015/mt for requests of 1,000 mt.

Prices at Eur1,000-1,020/mt ex-works Italy are still workable for sales to German customers, an Italian mill source said. However, stockholders were heard to be more interested in import prices, with offers from Indonesia heard at Eur910/mt CIF Italy Ports.

“Stockholders will book imports now especially if they think of these are peak prices,” the mill source said. “Using [imports] as leverage against mills.”

North European plate prices increased Eur10/mt over the week to Eur1100/mt ex-works Ruhr June 25, while Italian plate prices dropped Eur5/mt to 1025/mt ex-works Italy.

— Amanda Flint