Supply-demand divide weighs down steel sheet

Mar 27, 2013 | 03:40 PM | Catherine Ngai

Tags  steel sheet, SteelBenchmarker, lead times, flat rolled, hot-rolled, catherine ngai

NEW YORK — Participants in the domestic and imported steel sheet markets are hoping that the second quarter will fare better than the first, but most agree that prices are unlikely to gain much upward momentum unless capacity is taken offline.

"The big picture is that (prices are) based on demand and supply, and the gap between the two is too big," a Midwest service center source said. "There’s too much supply availability and there’s too much ability to make new tons, which keeps lead times short and puts pressure on prices."

A steel trader agreed, noting that foreign sheet has continued to remain uncompetitive except in major importing hubs due to continued oversupply. Some domestic mills are matching import prices on the East Coast and freight equalizing, some traders said, making it increasingly difficult to sell foreign material into the U.S. market at a viable margin. ....

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