Prices in US flat-rolled steel market continue to erode

18 March 2015

Hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel coil prices in the US continued to fall on Tuesday, with buyers still uncertain about how the next few weeks may play out.

Platts lowered its HRC price assessment to $475-485/st, from $480-490/st previously. CRC fell to $600-620/st, from $610-630/st. All prices are normalized to a Midwest (Indiana), ex-works basis.

A Midwest service center source said two competing mini-mills in the area "wanted to try and hold the line at $470-480/st, unless you were really prepared to issue a purchase order for serious tons."

He said he had heard certain mills "were really reaching low," hoping to fill their lines and "then try something."

A second Midwest service center source said $480/st was the "everyday" HRC number.

Buyers continue to say mills are trying to push this market "as the bottom," as one buy-side source put it, adding he is hearing "talks of a potential increase, but not sure that buyers really believe there is any upward risk."

He agreed that a range for CRC in the Houston market of $550-580/st suggested by a trader earlier in the week made sense, as they are starting to see some of those prices in the Midwest. The buyer said those prices would only be available for "larger tons." These prices were not included in the daily assessment, as they would be outside of the Platts size specification of up to 500 st.

The buyer said those prices were more available from converters and mini-mills based in the Midwest, noting that the integrated producers had not been getting that aggressive.

A third Midwest service center said recent orders he placed would be delivered within 3.5 weeks, as mill order books "remain pretty soft."

"We don't see a reason they are going to raise the price. We see many reasons that it is going to go down," he said.

He recently heard of a 1,000 st Midwest CRC purchase, which he said would be "surprising" if the buyer paid above $600/st.

"This market is not going anywhere unless more capacity and trade cases come hit the market together," another buy-side source said.


Source :