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West Coast sheet prices inch higher

Keywords: Tags  flat-rolled steel, West Coast, CSI, UPI, Frank Haflich


LOS ANGELES — Domestic flat-rolled steel prices continue to edge up on the West Coast despite stiff competition from abroad.

The region’s two major flat-rolled producers—Fontana, Calif.-based California Steel Industries Inc. and Pittsburg, Calif.-based USS-Posco Industries—have not formally issued an industrywide September price increase announcement. However, sources report the mills have nonetheless started pushing for higher prices when they sit down with customers to sign new spot deals.

"We’re negotiating with everybody," said a mill source of September business.

The informal push for higher prices for September comes on the heels of a $40-per-ton increase announced by the region’s mills in July for August material, a move that market sources say has been partially successful ( amm.com, July 23).

As a result, some West Coast buyers said their September prices from domestic mills are anywhere from $20 to $50 per ton ($1 to $2.50 per hundredweight) higher than they were prior to the last increase, depending on the product and their volume requirements.

Hot-rolled sheet is reportedly in the range of $700 to $730 per ton ($35 to $36.50 per cwt), while cold-rolled coil has been reported at $770 to $800 per ton ($38.50 to $40 per cwt). The base price for galvanized is said to be slightly higher.

But despite renewed domestic strength, foreign mills continue to keep the pressure on prices, and some buyers maintain their latest quotes from traders are the lowest they’ve seen in months.

"As far as we’re concerned, the idea of an overall price increase for this market is an exaggeration," said a manufacturer, citing the impact of imports.

Hot-rolled coil from South Korea has been reported as low as $640 to $660 per ton ($32 to $33 per cwt) for expected arrival in late October or November, with Mexican hot-rolled in the upper end of this price range. Meanwhile, Chinese cold-rolled for arrival in November or early December is said to be as low as $700 to $720 per ton ($35 to $36 per cwt), West Coast market sources said.

Sources are now wondering how much lower imported prices could go. Some noted that cold-rolled in China—not necessarily produced by the largest mills—is changing hands at a price roughly equivalent to $560 per ton ($28 per cwt) on an f.o.b. mill basis, and could theoretically be sent to the West Coast for as low as $620 ($31 per cwt), not including traders’ profit margins.


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