NEW YORK A move by SSAB
Americas to increase published plate prices by another $50 per
ton was met with mixed reactions from the market, with many
taking a wait-and-see approach on whether a full $100-per-ton
increase can be supported by existing plate demand.
The Lisle, Ill.-based subsidiary
of Swedish steelmaker SSAB AB has raised prices for all new and
existing non-contract orders set to ship the week of Dec. 30,
according to a customer letter dated Nov. 19 (
amm.com, Nov. 20). The increase applies to
as-rolled carbon and high-strength, low-alloy plate; normalized
plate; alloy plate, including quenched and tempered;
cut-to-length plate; and hot-rolled coil greater than 72 inches
wide, the company said.
Earlier this month, the plate
producer followed competitors Nucor Corp. and ArcelorMittal USA
Inc. in raising prices by a minimum of $50 per ton (
amm.com, Nov. 9), meaning SSAB Americas
combined increases total $100 per ton.
But whether the announcement
will translate to a full $100-per-ton increase in transaction
prices remains to be seen, sources said.
"The easy part is to announce
price increases. Making them stick is another matter," one
service center source told AMM.
"Everyone is pretty guarded to
see whether the market will continue to strengthen," one mill
A number of steel buyers said
they had anticipated the fourth-quarter increases. "This is the
strategy this time of year. Its a good way to firm
prices," a second service center source said.
But the majority of market
sources told AMM they were caught off guard by how
quickly the second increase followed on the heels of the first,
with reactions ranging from "surprising" to "aggressive."
"I think its not
justified, and demand doesnt support it," a third service
center source said.
Pricing for plate
productsparticularly commodity-grade productshas
taken a dive in recent months amid a decline in demand that
started in the second quarter of this year. The price of
cut-to-length carbon plate, for example, has dropped as low as
$34 per hundredweight ($680 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill in
recent weeks, down from a high of $47 per cwt ($940 per ton) in
But others said the increases could have legs, especially since
some mill sources said they started to see an uptick in orders
as many steel buyers perceived recent lows as the pricing
"We do see a little activity
because some people are low on stocks," a second mill source
said. "Some customers took positions at very low levels, and
their perception is that if they need materialif not in
December, at least in Januarythey found it opportune to
buy at those levels a week or so back."
The first round of increases
also prompted an extension of lead times at some mills.
"Its our view that on the
first $50 per ton, at least $20 will get secured," the second
mill source said.
As of late Tuesday, AMM
had not seen news of other mills following SSAB Americas
apparently leading move, but some said they expected other
mills were close behind.
"I assume others will follow suit," a fourth service center