NEW YORK Flat-rolled
steel buyers on the West Coast are looking to late November for
clues on the strength of recent price hikes.
With several large buyers pretty
much set for the year as the regions mills have largely
filled out their order books for 2012, indications are that the
strength of recently announced increases will start to become
clear when customers return from the Thanksgiving holiday.
"I havent paid more for
steel yet, but I do expect to pay more for January," according
to one service center buyer, who, like several others, managed
to fill out this years requirements at pre-increase price
"I know I can still get
hot-rolled out of the Midwest for December," according to
another buyer, whose requirements for the year have essentially
been filled. "But I dont know what the price would
While neither of the
regions two major flat-rolled producers had announced a
second series of hikes as this week kicked off, buyers expect
them to move "momentarily" and join a round initiated earlier
this month by West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel Corp. and
followed by most producers east of the Rockies.
California Steel Industries Inc.
(CSI), Fontana, Calif., previously said it would raise prices
$40 per ton ($2 per hundredweight) on hot-rolled, cold-rolled
and galvanized sheet effective Oct. 18, while USS-Posco
Industries Inc. (UPI), Pittsburg, Calif., told customers it
would increase prices on cold-rolled and galvanized products by
the same amount, also effective Oct. 18 (
amm.com, Oct. 18).
Most buyers said the prices they
are being quoted now are $15 to $25 per ton (75 cents to $1.25
per cwt) higher than before the increase. They expect
hot-rolled prices could reach $35 per cwt ($700 per ton) or
higher, with a price level before the first round of hikes
estimated at approximately $33 per cwt ($660 per ton).
Meanwhile, some key imports that
have kept pressure on West Coast mills this year have also gone
up. Large Chinese cold-rolled producerswho in recent
months offered the biggest discounts to domestic
materialhave reportedly surpassed previous offers by $15
to $30 per ton, to stand at $33.50 to $34 per cwt ($670 to
$680) for cold-rolled sheet for February arrival.
Buyers said CSI has closed its
order books for 2012, while UPI has closed out galvanized but
will still take limited orders for cold-rolled product. UPI
expects to be down for maintenance beginning Nov. 19 for the
Thanksgiving holiday, and hasnt yet determined its
schedule for the balance of the year.
CSI will bring its hot mill down
from Nov. 21 to Nov. 27 and again from Dec. 2 to Dec. 12,
according to sources. In addition, its pickling line will be
down from Dec. 5 to Dec. 18, while the five-stand mill will be
offline from Dec. 8 to Dec. 19, the sources said.
A spokeswoman for CSI could not
be reached for comment.
If local mills are unable to
ship the influx of orders that came in to beat out the recent
price hike before year-end, this could temporarily help push
prices up moving into the first quarter, some buyers