Imported steel interest revived as US tags rise

Aug 17, 2012 | 11:36 AM | Catherine Ngai

Tags  steel prices, hot-rolled coil, medium plate, cold-rolled coil, traders, Harris County tax, Houston, China

NEW YORK — Steel traders are reporting a renewed interest in foreign material from U.S. customers after several slow summer months, but year-end inventory concerns may keep some would-be buyers at bay.

U.S. buyers have been largely sitting out of the imported steel market this summer as end-use demand remains sluggish and domestic material remains readily available at affordable prices. However, a widening spread between domestic and foreign flat-rolled product is starting to make the offshore material look increasingly attractive as August winds down, market sources told AMM.

"There’s activity out there; there’s definite activity. As domestics have gone up, the price gap has widened. The foreign mills are very aggressive and continue to be," said one trader.

Cold-rolled coil offers to the Port of Houston, for example, have edged down slightly in recent weeks, with most transactions now being reported at between $680 and $700 per ton. That’s down from imported prices of $700 to $710 per ton at the end of July and well below domestic Midwest prices of about $775 per ton f.o.b. mill.....

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