November 23, 2021 – European spot market for plates is getting bullish. Plate producers focusing on project markets. Plates spot market with low availability and rising prices. Steel producers in China’s Hebei province have to reduce crude steel production by up to 100%. Nickel and zinc prices rising strongly. And continuity at the US Federal Reserve is welcomed by the market.

Stainless Espresso: European spot market for plates bullish
Stainless Espresso: European spot market for plates bullish

European spot market for plates bullish

The mood in the EU for plate prices is becoming bullish. German plate producers in particular seem to have left the spot market for an increased focus on contract projects. Plate prices have reached the range of over $1125 a tonne. Especially for the galvanised automotive grades.

What is fuelling demand for plates in the EU?

In Europe, especially in Germany, the market is currently fuelled by upcoming funding from the EU and local governments for infrastructure projects. In addition, demand from the automotive industry for plates and HRC is expected to pick up significantly in Q1 2022. The focus of plate manufacturers on projects is also keeping the spot market very tight. Here, distributors and service centres have to stock up plates elsewhere.

Chinese steel producers have to cut crude steel production by up to 100%.

Steel producers in the Chinese city of Handan, Hebei Province, have been ordered by the local government to cut crude steel production by between 30% and 50%, depending on the category, from 18 November to 31 December 2021. Some producers have even been asked to completely reduce their production or blast furnace capacity.

Nickel and Zinc are clearly on the rise

Nickel and zinc prices have risen significantly since 22 November. What are the reasons?

Nickel in short supply – LME and SHFE pick up

After nickel on the SHFE had already risen by more than 1% yesterday, it has once again risen significantly by more than 3% today, Tuesday. LME nickel is also showing strength, gaining over 1.7% on Monday to close at over $20,200 per tonne. Today it is already up another 1.4%.

Nickel data shows tight availabilities and strong demand

Chinese imports fell significantly in October. The background is bad weather in the Philippines. There, the mining industry is struggling with the monsoon, which meant a drop in nickel ore imports of more than 23%. Nickel sulphate exports to China are also down by up to 48%, depending on the origin. NPI and ferronickel are also in short supply. Warrant stocks on the LME were also down 43.4% already today.

Large EU Zinc Smelter goes into maintenance

Zinc prices are on the rise. In the spot and on the SHFE, prices have risen by more than 3.7% compared to Monday. On the LME, zinc futures had already jumped almost 4.3% on 22 November after it was announced that zinc processor Glencore will put its Italian plant with 100,000 tonnes of total annual production into maintenance. Warrant stocks on the LME for zinc have already fallen by 26.25% today.

Continuity at the top of the US Federal Reserve Bank

After a long period of consideration, US President Joe Biden has decided to extend the term of Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell. Lael Brainard, who was also favoured, is to become vice-chair. The nominations must now be confirmed in the Senate. Joe Biden emphasised that the Fed will of course focus on inflation, employment and a strong economy. The financial markets seem to welcome the continuity.


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