Northwest European plate prices not bottoming out yet

It could still be a bit of a way before plate prices from northwest European mills reach the floor, observers believe.

In Italy, many see a return of demand in the third quarter, and consequently a stabilisation of prices from the much lower level there. North of the Alps, however, demand has been somewhat more reliable, the shock of ceased CIS-origin slab imports in March was less harsh, and the influence of overseas plate imports rather minimal.

Therefore, northern prices are still on the downward correction curve, with probably some more concessions ahead. According to one buyer, “there will be a standstill at some point, but at the moment they are still falling, and it remains to be seen where the bottom line is.

In Italy, mills could be inclined to look for buyers beyond borders. Local prices for S275 grade now stand at around €1,200/tonne ($1,255), but one German source says he has heard of prices lower than that, notably delivered to Germany. This is not commonly understood; another buyer sees Italian material still at above €1,400/t delivered Germany.

Once the floor level becomes tangible in Italy, this could be a signal northwards, too, a German manager believes. “If prices there reach bottom, they would soon stabilise here, too,” he says, but refrains from making a judgement on when that will occur. “At present, the arrow is pointing clearly down,” he tells Kallanish. But for the mid-term, “I do not think anybody can make a sensible prediction. For both directions, there are good arguments – or no arguments at all,” he quips.

Christian Koehl Germany