Historically, the pricing spread between hot-rolled carbon sheet and plate is roughly $150-$200. As of early September 2022, that spread remained at historic levels, over $900.
But why? Brian Crane, Ryerson’s product manager for carbon flat roll and plate in the west region, says it’s a combination of robust end-user demand and limited capacity for plate.
“We are seeing some first-stage infrastructure projects coming online, many of which require material to be sourced domestically,” says Crane. “And while the market is anticipating additional capacity coming online for sheet this year, there isn’t the same expectation for plate. That means current plate mills are quite busy keeping up with demand.”
Whereas many flat-roll producers have either added new mills or additional capacity at existing mills this year, only one new plate mill is expected to come online this year.
Crane also believes mills are trying to ensure they are staying in competition with imports. Spot prices on the European market, for instance, are around $1,245/ton, down from over $1,800/ton earlier this year.
“High energy costs across Europe have caused many mills to take a closer look at production levels, and we have also seen cooling in the European manufacturing economy. These factors have caused plate production needs to fall off a bit in that part of the world,” adds Crane.
Overall, it remains unclear as to when we could see the pricing spread between sheet and plate to retreat to more historic levels. Crane believes we could see plate prices stay in the current range for the foreseeable future.
Check out the latest prices and inventory of steel sheet here.
Check out the latest prices and inventory of steel plate here.