LOS ANGELES West Coast
buyers of commodity steel plate who are already concerned about
what they fear are growing stocks in the regions
warehouses are beginning to see offers from yet another
unexpected offshore source: Japan.
Until recently, offers of A36
and other commodity-grade plate from Japan hadnt been
seen on a significant scale in years, with most Japanese
business focused on value-added products like
However, late last
yeardespite opposition from domestic steel
producersthe U.S. International Trade Commission voted to
revoke anti-dumping duties on cut-to-length plate from Japan
and Italy, leading to what some buyers say has been a pickup in
Sources estimate that prices for
warehouse grades and sizes of Japanese plate are as low as $42
to $43 per hundredweight ($840 to $860 per ton) for arrival in
late July and August, making Japanese material competitive with
plate from South Korea, which has been considered the major
foreign source to the region. Plate from Taiwan has also been
available to West Coast buyers, although the size and thickness
range is considered more limited.
That compares with domestic West
Coast tags that are significantly higher, with domestic price
hike announcements bringing the delivered plate price in the
region to as high as $52 per cwt ($1,040 per ton). However,
some large service center sources said theyve seen the
price drop below $50 per cwt ($1,000 per ton) in competitive
The reported pickup in Japanese
offers comes at a time of growing inventories in the region,
sources said. "Its going to be an interesting summer,"
one distributor said.
On the demand side, however,
plate remains one of the strongest of the major carbon steel
segments. Energy-related business such as tank fabrication for
refineries remains healthy, while a number of bridge projects
are expected to move forward soon, especially in the Northwest.
The next major project up for bid is reportedly the replacement
of a segment of a Portland, Ore., bridge, whose requirement for
weathering-grade plate could reach 5,000 tons.
"If youre adding value,
the outlook is goodthere are a lot of jobs out there,"
according to one distributor, whose company recently added new
processing equipment. "But still, theres an awful lot of
plate in the market today."