NEW YORK U.S. steel plate
prices have continued to slide as subdued demand and ample
availability of both domestic and imported material hangs over
Minimal ordering helped push
cut-to-length plate prices lower this week, with spot prices
reaching an average of $39 per hundredweight ($780 per ton)
f.o.b. mill. Thats down from about $41 per cwt ($820 per
ton) in late July (
amm.com, July 27), although market sources said
lower-priced offers continue to be available if buyers are
willing to place large orders.
"If youve got orders to
place, you can negotiate. Especially if youve got big
tons, the mills will talk to you," one fabricator told
One mill source said that orders
had been slow to trickle in, helping to push prices down. "We
do expect that ... mid-August we will see some relief, some
demand improving. We are looking forward to it," he said.
"Today, I dont see that."
Some of the slowdown in orders
is seasonal, while some is tied to a hesitancy to place orders
in a falling market, according to sources.
"I will order to fill holes,"
one service center source said. "If I dont think Im
going to need it in the next 30 days, Im not going to buy
However, orders could pick up
again if scrapand hence, steel plateprices appear
to reach a floor.
"We think plate is definitely
softening, but if scrap goes up, that may change," a second
service center source said.
The mill source agreed that a
rising scrap market could help put a floor beneath the falling
plate prices, but noted that it would take some time for the
renewed scrap price strength to carry over to the steel
"Theres a time lag with
plate," he said.
Steel plate saw strong
first-half demand, but a combination of readily available
imported and domestic material and the slower summer months
have helped depress prices, sources said. Many plate end-use
markets remain at strong or at least at steady levels,
especially for heavy machinery, rail cars and the heavier
material needs within the automotive market.
Others, however, are said to be
slowing. "We havent seen as much from the bridge or
energy sector," the first service center source said. "That
kind of had its run through government incentives."
The federal Production Tax
Credit (PTC) for wind energy, for example, is set to expire by
year-end. Plate sources have noted that because of the
long-term lead times for such energy products, the plate market
has already started to see a lag in buying from this