For the Quarter Ending March 2023
Steel Plate prices in the North American region upsurged during the first quarter of 2023. Initially, demand picked up moderately, reflecting lower stock levels following the holiday season. Service centers reported increased customer inquiries and shipments, but few were interested in stocking up on steel products, especially with lead times not extending any further than they had. In mid-Q1, the domestic steelmakers kept prices elevated owing to the rising raw material costs. As per the buyer, major players were raising costs to compete with the import offers. In March, mills continued to raise spot market offers, but demand remained steady as buyers continued to review their order books. Lead times increased to 7-8 weeks from 6-7 weeks. Confirmed orders were agreed upon and protected until the order was completed and shipped. Therefore, prices of the Steel plate for Ex-Work Texas were assessed at USD 1702/MT on March 31.
In the first quarter of 2023, the Steel Plate prices showcased an upward momentum in the Asia- Pacific region. In January, demand picked up with a rise in downstream inquiries on the back of stabilized global inflation and China's reopening. However, China's production cuts and the Russia-Ukraine war resulted in tighter supply. Following the Spring Festival holiday, the steel market strengthened more in February, and the steel price continued to rise, signaling a promising start. Steel mills stopped production for more maintenance due to high costs, and output continued to fall, which was good for steel prices. With the arrival of the traditional peak season in March, domestic production was increased due to tight spot supply. Also, the costs of iron ore and coking coal rose due to inventory replenishment and Beijing's tightening control over crude steel production. Steel mills were under a lot of cost pressure, so the ex-factory price was raised. Therefore, the price of the Steel plate for Ex Shanghai was assessed at USD 648/MT on March 31.
In the European region, the price trend of Steel Plate followed an upward price trajectory during the first quarter of 2023. The hikes in Steel Plate prices were due to increasing prices of the slab, improved demand, and short supply due to longer plate delivery times. Major manufacturers claimed that big buyers who had avoided restocking in December began to place orders in this quarter. The anticipated rise in import slab prices from Asia following the Lunar New Year holidays in China, as well as good order books at European plate producers, also contributed to the market's bullishness. Sales volumes picked up significantly due to limited inventory and higher downstream demand, and buyers were willing to pay higher prices. Some automotive steel demand revival had also contributed to the upbeat mood. Therefore, the price of the Steel plate for Ex Ruhr was assessed at USD 1165/MT on March 31.
For the Quarter Ending December 2022
In the final quarter of 2022, the Steel Plate prices plunged in the US market owing to the limited inquiries from the downstream segment. In October, major manufacturers were curtailing production activity to fill the supply-demand gap. The Mississippi River's water level had dropped so low that barges had become stuck, resulting in costly dredging and traffic congestion. According to manufacturers, Steel Plate fell as the market remains concerned about logistics. As shippers cannot load as much weight on a barge at low water levels, barges became much more expensive, causing shipping delays. Towards the quarter's end, the inventory level dropped, and Steel Plate manufacturers started raising prices, anticipating a higher demand outlook before the Christmas holiday. Buyers had opted wait-and-watch outlook as the market slowed ahead of the holidays. Thus, Steel Plate (20 mm) prices for Ex Works Texas (USA) settled at USD 1605/MT.
In the Chinese market, the Steel Plate prices showcased a declining trend in the final quarter owing to the limited downstream demand amidst higher inventory levels. Steel mills lowered their output in October, and steel transactions increased. Measures for preventing and controlling epidemics were tightened in some places, and transportation and logistics were stopped. Production capacity was high, and significant supply limitations were observed. However, because of the high cost of raw materials, the steel plant quickly experienced a loss. Market participants claim that domestic COVID regulations and the complicated international scenario harm the revival of steel demand. Fewer Chinese steel mills intend to stock up on steel plates before the Chinese New Year. Thus, Mild Steel (Q235B-10 mm) Plate prices for Ex Shanghai (China) settled at USD 554/MT.
Towards the closure of Q4, the Steel Plate prices edged in the downward direction amidst a higher inventory level and stable demand outlook. Steel plate prices remained low in October as a result of strong demand and the availability of affordable slabs. Suppliers claimed that they were utilizing more expensive slabs since any savings from buying cheaper slabs would be outweighed by increasing energy prices in Europe. However, trading activity in the area remained minimal, with the majority of the tonnages exchanged being minor. Instead of investing in more capacity, buyers would rather sell off their depreciating stock. After reserving the necessary volumes in December, large purchasers fled the market, which was already slowing due to the impending Christmas holidays. Thus, the discussions of Steel Plate (16 mm) prices for Ex Ruhr settled at USD 963/MT.
For the Quarter Ending September 2022
In Q3 2022, Steel Plate prices followed the downfall trend in the North American market amid rising signs of a recession and weakening manufacturing indicators. Throughout the quarter, the manufacturing units faced a larger demand-supply gap between the HRC and plate, leading to a price drop for Steel Plate. Steel plate prices kept declining, as steel manufacturing firm Nucor reduced its plate prices in the mid-quarter. In addition, lead times increased from 3-5 weeks to 5-6 weeks. Many buyers refuse to make purchases that would increase their inventories, preferring to keep stocks tight rather than take risks in an uncertain market. In the USA, the prices of Steel plates were USD 1884 per MT Ex-works Texas.
During the third quarter of 2022, Steel Plate prices witnessed a declining price trend in the Asian market. According to market participants, global steel prices remained under pressure from various sources in the third quarter of 2022, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its numerous difficulties, as well as the impact of COVID-19 cases in China on overall steel demand. Lower exports contribute to inventory build-up, forcing steel manufacturers to halt production slightly in the third quarter. Prices thus remained southbound in Q3 2022, with participants taking a wait-and-see approach, waiting for the price slide to stabilize before returning to the market. Towards the quarter's end, the prices of Steel Plates in China were USD 3566 per MT, FOB Tianjin.
In the European market, Steel Plate prices witnessed a declining trend in the third quarter of 2022 amidst Europe's ongoing inflationary pressures and weak consumption. Germany faced higher inflationary pressure, and local Steel Plate producers are also under cost pressure, pushing the stainless-steel prices. Furthermore, western sanctions did not have the desired effect on the Russian steel industry in the third quarter. However, Russian steelmakers are forced to seek out newer markets and logistics routes to deliver their steel products and raw materials. Towards the end of the third quarter, the prices of Steel Plates in Germany were USD 1155 per MT Ex Ruhr.
For the Quarter Ending June 2022
Steel Plate prices witnessed mixed sentiments in the North American market during the second quarter of 2022. However, since Russia invaded Ukraine, steel prices have significantly rebounded due to supply concerns and an increase in lead times. Steel prices rose sharply as the war threatened supplies from the two major producing countries. Due to supply chain disruptions, the conflict resulted in a reduction in steel input costs. However, after surging around mid-April, the rally in Steel Plate prices has slowed as prices have begun to fall. Prices have dropped by more than 20% since their peak in April. Furthermore, mills are negotiating lower prices for new orders. Steel prices are under pressure in the short term due to these factors and fears of a recession. Nonetheless, strong demand in critical end-user markets bodes well for the steel industry. Despite the semiconductor crunch, steel producers expect continued healthy demand in the automotive market. Order activity in the non-residential construction market is also vigorous, highlighting the industry's underlying strength.
In the Asian market, steel plate prices experienced mixed market sentiment. On the other hand, Steel Plate prices skyrocketed in April and May due to rising raw material and transportation costs. Japanese steelmakers have been working hard to shift production overseas to their home market. The decision was influenced by the rapidly falling yen, global supply-chain constraints, geopolitical threats, and shifting wage patterns. According to market participants, a shortage of semiconductors has dampened steel demand in the automobile industry. Furthermore, Nippon Steel raised the prices of Steel Plates used in construction materials and pushed for additional price increases, escalating inflationary pressures in a country where the automobile industry is already dealing with rising costs. Prices for steel plates fell in June due to lower demand, a bearish long steel segment, and a lack of firm offers from overseas buyers. Mild Steel (JIS 3101-10 mm) plate prices for Ex Osaka settled at USD 1005/MT as a ripple effect.
In the European market, the Steel Plate prices witnessed a mixed trend during the second quarter of 2022, as the impact of sanctions and rising prices reduced customer purchasing power. Meanwhile, raw material price inflation accelerated due to an unfavorable exchange rate and material shortages. As per market players, the drop comes as Europe's economy slows, rising commodity prices and inflation denting consumption across the continent. After the war sparked concern about a disruption in steel exports from Russia and Ukraine, service centers and factories rebuilt stockpiles, reducing the need for consumers to buy products at historically high prices. Some participants cite that material delivery delays held up the processing of incoming new orders in May and June, mainly to the effect of sanctions, and with the backlog, work decreased only fractionally. Meanwhile, output continued to decline amid a steep further fall in exports and shortages of raw materials.