In the final quarter of 2022, the Chequered plate Prices declined in the US market as demand for flat-rolled products was deteriorating, and mills struggled to maintain balance while reducing output. Mills successfully kept the majority of transactions at the higher end of the spectrum. Due to mill outages, weak demand, and pressured export prices, the domestic steel market in the United States appeared to be moving further away from recovery. Bearish sentiment in the global market resulted from decreasing production volumes, sharply falling prices in the major export destination, and low demand for Stainless Steel (Flat) Prices in Turkey and the United States, which prevented costs from rising. With falling scrap prices, US Stainless Steel mills had tried to remain competitive with import offers as downstream demand from new projects had not warranted additional spot buys or bookings of more significant imports, along with rising financing costs. Steelmakers and some service centers believe the market was finally approaching an absolute bottom in ending the fourth quarter. As a ripple effect, the SS Chequered Plate (6 mm) prices for FOB Port of TX City (USA) settled at USD 4610/MT in mid-Q4 2022.
Chequered plate prices in China fell in the fourth quarter of 2022 due to declining demand dynamics and rising COVID infection. In October, the price of chequered sheets rose slightly. Following National Day, the arrival of Chequered sheets in the market was not as anticipated, and some specifications were in short supply. Furthermore, raw material supply was an issue. According to buyers, there was no discernible improvement in demand, and buyers' willingness to purchase in the downstream market was low. In mid-Q4, epidemic prevention and control measures were tightened in some areas, and logistics and transportation were disrupted. Near the end of the quarter, some merchants offered discounts. However, there was little availability of Chequered Plate inventory at the time. Downstream enterprises had reduced their inventory pressure due to the capital flow. Furthermore, domestic and export sales were significantly lower this year compared to previous years. As a result, the November Ex Tangshan (China) SS Chequered Plate (304-6 mm) prices were fixed at USD 2821/MT.
Chequered Plate prices in the European market plunged in the fourth quarter of 2022 due to a declining demand outlook and rising energy prices. Buyers who ordered Chequered Plate for December delivery said it was already available on the market, with lead times from several mills as low as two weeks in October. The market for European chequered plates reopened in the mid-fourth quarter. After a long period of inactivity during which Chequered Plate prices fell and buyers purchased in small quantities, European demand for Chequered Plates resumed in November. Buyer demand had increased while producers in Europe and around the world were shutting down plants due to high energy costs. Buyers asserted that terminal demand had remained largely stable, and distributors began restocking in November, indicating that inventories had been depleted. However, no large cargoes were involved in the restocking, and increased distributor demand not affected prices. Even for the first half of the year, actual demand will remain current until 2023. One European mill was planning extra melting in December ahead of a significant shutdown in March. As a result, the SS Chequered Plate (304-5mm) Ex Ruhr (Germany) was settled in November at USD 3727/MT.
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