Hot band pricing steps up; world market bucking trend

Nov 28, 2007 | 03:08 PM | Michael Cowden

Hot band spot prices took another stride higher in the United States and China, but showed signs of weakness elsewhere, according to the latest SteelBenchmarker report.

Although prices rose slightly on a dollar basis in Western Europe, they declined significantly on a euro basis in part because of the weak U.S. dollar. World export prices, meanwhile, fell for the second consecutive time.

In China, the increases come amid rising costs for freight and raw materials like iron ore, analysts said. Prices also have been boosted on speculation that the Chinese government might soon cut or reduce some export incentives, said Charles A. Bradford, steel industry analyst at Bradford Research/Soleil Securities Inc., New York.

In the United States, increases are largely the result of dwindling imports and customer inventories, analysts said. Steel imports increased in October, but most of the jump was a result of an increase in semi-finished product such as blooms, billets and slabs, Bradford said. Mills generally buy semi-finished items, which means that customer inventories will remain low despite the import gain. "It may be that mills are trying to beat the price increases that are coming with iron ore," he said.....

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