NW European plate prices remain unstable

Plate prices in northwestern Europe have given in further since early November, and a clear sign of an uptick is not in sight, although some believe in a recovery of demand.

One German manager observes pessimistic as well as optimistic attitudes on the market. He himself opts for the latter view, but the recovery will not come this year any more, and possibly only in the second quarter 2023.

“The fact is, there is pressure for (public) investment, and there are enough projects in the pipeline, be it for wind farms, yellow goods, or infrastructure,” he says.

A source from a mill believes that the low point of prices is about to be reached, but that the first quarter will still start weak.

“Too many factors are just too volatile to identify a direction,” he tells Kallanish. He sees the lower end of prices from integrated mills at €950/tonne ($996/t) for S355. He also sees notably higher prices, reaching above €1,050/t, from mills with good demand for higher grade plate, and little interest in offering commodities.

Another source notes that especially material from stocks can be had at prices “which no one can understand, and which would only serve to empty the inventory.” On the other hand, there is a slight drift towards higher prices for segments which cannot be served from stocks, he says.

“It remains to be seen if that is sustainable; a visible recovery of prices will not come before the middle or the end of the first quarter,” he adds.

Christian Koehl Germany