Northwest European plate prices bottom out

The softening of plate prices in northwest Europe appears to have halted at the end of 2021, when S235 grade product had dipped under €900/tonne ($1,007) ex-works.

“You can get it for €890 on relatively short notice, and for €870 when you are prepared to wait longer,” a southern German-based manager told Kallanish only a week ago.

But around that time a turn of the trend had already kicked in, a manager of a mill group claims now, attributing this to increasing costs for slab, raw materials including alloys, and energy. He sees prices from NW European integrated works for S235 going towards, or already reaching, €950/t. He re-calculates the value for S235 from the more common quote of S355 delivered, which he says is now back at €1,000.

However, prices for S235 may be softer altogether, as regional mills have little interest in making this grade, leaving the segment to Eastern European mills.

Looking at Italy, he says prices there are relatively high, and unattractive for northern customers, at a current local ex-works price for S275 of around €850. He notes that the transalpine gap has become narrower, from a typical €80+ to €60 now, which would set the price of northwestern mills for S235 at around €920 ex-works.

Not everybody necessarily agrees that a rebound of prices has already kicked in. Strengthening prices are more likely for thick gauges from reversing mills, rather than for plate cut from coil. As one observer pointed out earlier, cut-from-coil plate remains soft, corresponding to the lack of direction felt on the strip coil market.

Christian Koehl Germany