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Import prices fall for Chinese cold-rolled sheet

Keywords: Tags  Chinese cold-rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, steel, Chinese sheet, average unit value, sheet imports, steel traders, license applications Catherine Ngai

NEW YORK — Large amounts of Chinese cold-rolled sheet hit U.S. shores in October at their lowest prices in more than a year.

The average value of imported Chinese cold-rolled sheet was $682 per tonne in October, U.S. Import Administration data show, down 3.6 percent from the prior low of $708 in May. Prices appeared to be drifting lower this month, with data through Nov. 8 showing an average value of $645 per tonne.

Traders have said that Chinese cold-rolled offers have been increasingly competitive, priced below the typically lower-cost hot-rolled sheet (, Sept. 5). Market sources said that material can be obtained for around $650 to $665 per ton into the Northeast, citing China’s slowing demand and oversupply.

But much of that traction has given way, as U.S. prices fell last week to some $700 per ton f.o.b. Midwest mill from $775 per ton in September. Traders said that the recent price hikes might again help increase the differential.

"Business has been about the same. We’re booking small orders that people buy on a regular basis. We’re looking at the price increases and hoping that a big chunk of it will be realized—especially with the storm—and that will raise market level prices," one trader said. "Everyone is losing money. The Chinese are losing money. The Europeans need help."

Some 94,721 tonnes of cold-rolled sheet hit U.S. shores in October, up from 88,358 tonnes in September. China accounted for 17,532 tonnes of last month’s total, making it the second-largest supplier, compared with just 2,357 tonnes in September. And while China’s October licenses didn’t surpass the 27,572-tonne total seen in August, the average unit value was much lower last month.

"Everyone is so afraid to buy anything right now," a second trader said. "The Chinese are a factor. But they haven’t sold a zillion tons, and they’re only a factor on the coasts."

Markets are slumped and people are afraid to buy before year-end, a third trader said.

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