LOS ANGELES Carbon steel
plate sales on the West Coast appear to be slowing further as
few buyers appear willing to gamble that even todays low
prices will look good in a months time.
"Were only buying per job,
otherwise not until next year," one distributor source
Domestic prices for warehouse
grades and sizes, which last month were as low as $830 to $840
per ton ($41.50 to $42 per hundredweight) delivered, are now
moving lower, approaching $40 per cwt in some cases, depending
on delivery costs, according to sources.
With the markets current
direction and sentiment, including the impact of heavy import
inventories, buyers remain cautious.
"You dont want to be
paying over $40 (per cwt) for plate if you want your inventory
costs to remain competitive," one service center executive
Interest in purchasing plate,
which earlier in 2012 was viewed as the strongest of the major
carbon steel products in the West Coast market, has fallen to
what most buyers agree is the years low point.
"At the current consumption
level, we think its probably going to take until the end
of the year to work off inventories," another buyer said.
Among the major domestic sources
for carbon plate in the West Coast market are Nucor
Corp.s facilities in Hertford, N.C., and Tuscaloosa,
Ala.; the North American division of Lisle, Ill.-based SSAB
Americas; and Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA.
Moreover, the regions only
significant producer of discrete platethe Portland, Ore.,
operations of Evraz North America Inc.s Flat Products
Grouphas become more active in the trade plate market,
sources said. It is competing against large distributors, who
at times play the role of mill depots, while also offering
relatively short lead times.
An Evraz spokeswoman
couldnt be reached for comment Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the role of South
Koreathe benchmark for imports in the West Coast market
and believed to account for most foreign plate in the
regions warehousesremains unclear. While some
sources said the latest offers from Korea have fallen below $37
per cwt ($740 per ton), others said they havent followed
up on these reports because their warehouses are already
"We told them we dont need
any more plate," one buyer said of his recent contact with
traders selling Korean plate.