Steel plate prices flatten in Italy despite pressure from buyers

Steel prices in Southern Europe were unchanged in the week ending Wednesday August 3 because Italian plate producers have refused to cut prices further due to thin profit margins, sources told Fastmarkets.
Steel plate prices remained largely unchanged in Italy in the week ended August 3, despite pressure from buyers.

Official offers from local plate producers were heard at €1,000-1,100 ($1,023-1,124) per tonne exw, depending on the customer. But sources said that the high end was not considered workable for the spot market, while plate at €1,100 per tonne exw was mainly being sold for projects.

In the spot market some deals for limited tonnages were heard at €950-1,000 per tonne exw during the assessment week, sources said.

“There is still some trading activity this week [week ending August 3], with some last orders before summer closures. Staring next week [week starting August 8] the market will be dead,” a trading source told Fastmarkets.

“There is some re-stocking activity, but everyone is buying only what is strictly necessary,” a second trading source in Italy told Fastmarkets.

Bids from large buyers were reported at €900-930 per tonne exw, but producers said that a price below €950 per tonne exw was not acceptable due to high slab costs and potential energy price spikes in September-October.

“[The plate price of] €900 per tonne exw is below costs, taking into account the slab price and further increase of gas and electricity tariffs starting from September and beyond,” a mill source told Fastmarkets.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel domestic plate, 8-40mm, exw Southern Europe was €950-1,000 per tonne on Wednesday, unchanged from the previous week.

This assessment reflects offers, deals and market participants’ estimates of achievable prices heard during the week.

Offers of plate from Asia with October delivery were heard at €850-870 per tonne cfr during the assessment week, with bookings of large tonnages heard done within the range in late July.

Northern Europe
Trading activity in the Northern European plate market remained subdued in the week ended August 3 due to persistent overstocking and high prices offered by local producers.

Offers from the integrated mills in Germany varied greatly, depending on customer.

One mill in Saarland offered plate to the German market at €1,400-1,750 per tonne exw.

“Dillinger is still very well booked and is giving a wide range of prices depending on [the] customer,” a trading source in Germany said.

In general, mills in Germany had good orderbooks for projects such as offshore and wind towers and shipbuilding, so resisted lower prices.

Another mill in Saxony-Anhal dropped offers to €1,250-1,350 per tonne exw, down from €1,300-1,350 per tonne exw in July, to encourage buying, sources said.

The company had some unsold plate tonnages and was ready to provide discounts, several sources told Fastmarkets.

German producers were in general reluctant to undercut their prices more, despite poor activity in the spot market.

Potential gas supply disruptions and energy costs in September were the main concerns for platemakers.

As a result, Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel domestic plate, 8-40mm, exw Northern Europe was at €1,250-1,300 per tonne on Wednesday, down by €50 per tonne from €1,300-1,350 per tonne a week earlier.

Asia-origin plate offers to the region were heard at €850-900 per tonne cfr Antwerp for October delivery. However, despite a significant gap with domestic prices, European buyers had little enthusiasm for overseas bookings due to longer lead times, “exploding freight rates” and overstocked ports, sources said.

Italy-origin plate was offered to the south of Germany at €1,000-1,050 per tonne cpt, depending on volume and chemistry.

An electric-arc-furnace-based mill in Central Europe offered plate to Germany at €1,050-1,100 per tonne exw, sources said.

Published by: Julia Bolotova