Plate market still slow in NW Europe

Activity in the northwestern European plate market remains in suspended animation, according to sources from the buyers’ and the sellers’ sides. And they are unanimous that a silver lining is not on the horizon.

“There is no move to be seen anywhere. It is really very awkward,” a German buyer tells Kallanish. Prices have not moved in the course of the summer once they settled at around €850/tonne ($922) for S355 ex-works.

Mills might not want to sell for less because the floor price for any profitability is already reached, one mill source says. He concedes that “we sell very little,” especially in an environment of low-priced offers from various countries.

From Poland, offers of around €780/t ex-works are reported, a level that is on par with the prices in Italy. However, orders from either would have to add transport costs of easily €50-60, bringing them closer to the northwestern domestic prices. This is evident in offers from a southeastern European of €870/t delivered Ruhr, pretty much on par with the domestic prices.

Overseas imports make little difference. “I have just received an offer from India for €820 delivered to my warehouse,” a German stockholder says. He does not consider it attractive, as delivery would likely take until January, “and who knows where prices are then.” Lead times from EU domestic mills are eight weeks, he adds.

According to a northern source, “only very rare information about new prices is available; it seems the integrated mills are not yet really back to the market.”

Christian Koehl Germany