NEW YORK Carbon steel plate pricing appears poised to climb higher, sources said, but just how high remains uncertain as many spot buyers are holding off booking material for January.
"You know, if lead times are running roughly four weeks, its probably next week at the earliest that people are going to be talking about January," one mill source said.
Service center spot buyers confirmed expectations of higher prices when conversations about January orders commence, but those negotiations havent yet started, they said.
"We saw part of (the first price increase) here, but well have to wait and see what happens with next year," one service center source said.
The average price of cut-to-length carbon plate rose in mid-November to $35 per hundredweight ($700 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill, up $1 per cwt ($20 per ton) since domestic plate mills announced two rounds of increases starting the first week of November totaling $100.
"I expect well see higher prices for January," a second service center source said.
However, steel plate buyers said theyre doubtful those higher prices will represent the full $100 per ton from the November increases (amm.com, Nov. 26). Many have said that the second $50-per-ton announcement will likely only serve to secure the full amount of the first increase, also $50 per ton.
Most sources said Thursday it still remains unclear whether lackluster demand for domestic plate products can support the whole $100-per-ton price increase, even though ordering is expected to see a seasonal pickup in January.
"Its week by week," a second mill source said, noting that establishing a floor for carbon plate pricing helped prompt some buying from service centers and project-based buyers, but suppliers otherwise havent seen much change in end-user demand.