Plate remains weak in northwest Europe

Prices of heavy plate from northwest European mills have not gained strength, with some sources saying they have in fact noticed further softening in recent weeks.

“The market keeps getting softer, mills are, so-to-speak, flexible, and willing to reconsider prices in negotiations,” a northern German buyer tells Kallanish. Sales nevertheless remain weak and buyers reserved, he adds. “The eight has fallen,” he notes, meaning S355 grade plate prices have dropped below the €800/tonne ($868) delivered threshold.

This would point at another dip of some €20/t, given that €800 was the lower limit for ex-works quotes. On the import front, he tells of offers at €710/t delivered northern Germany.

It is possible that domestic mills are being more flexible with those buyers who employ mixed, import/domestic sourcing, and more rigid with their loyal customers. A manager of one distribution group who buys only from local mills finds that prices have not moved much in two months, and are still circling at around the €800 mark. “It can be €790 sometimes and €810 at other times,” he says.

An observer from a re-roller mill agrees with the manager. His impression, too, is that the integrated northwestern mills have not given in much, while prices in Italy are softening lately. “Mills there [in Italy] are still anxious to fill their books by summer,” he notes.

All sources agree, however, that they see little cause for a major recovery in the foreseeable future.

Christian Koehl Germany