US hot-rolled coil steel prices move up amid firm mill offers

15 November 2016

Hot-rolled coil prices in the US increased on Friday as buyers were unable to find discounts following the second round of mill price increases over the last week.

S&P Global Platts raised its daily HRC assessment to $500-$520/st from $490-$510/st. The daily cold-rolled coil assessment remained unchanged day on day at $700-$720/st. Both prices are normalized to a Midwest (Indiana) ex-works basis.

A mill source said he was selling at a minimum of $520/st and $740/st for HRC and CRC, respectively. He added those numbers took some volume and not just 100 st.

There were a lot of customers who wanted to wait and were now the ones getting pinched on supply and prices as lead times extend, the mill source said. The first announcement in October led to a wave of spot orders, the mill source said, but the second has increased contract orders and not as much spot.

A service center source said he had been debating over the last few days about current price levels but said the cheapest HRC number available was probably $500/st, while most mills were at least quoting $520/st. However, he said he had not made any purchases over the last week.

One buy-side source said he had a quote out for about 700 st of HRC and was offered $500/st. The buyer said the quoted number for HRC was at least $520/st out in the market and some asking for $530/st.

He believed the current momentum should persist as HRC lead times were pushing into the end of December and in some instances into January. In addition, he was not convinced he would be able to purchase HRC below $500/st.

A second service center source said they had not placed any new spot orders since early last week, but did have an outstanding CRC quote with a mini-mill and anticipated a price of $740/st.

"Earlier in the week we were seeing quotes of $700 and above ... now it looks like most everything is at $740 and little import competition," the service center source said regarding CRC.