NEW YORK Domestic flat-rolled steel mills continue to
push for higher prices, but with lead times stagnant and
year-end demand waning, mill and service center sources say the
markets upward momentum has stalledand could
be poised to fall.
Its either going up or going down, a mill
source said. (The price) never stays flat in this
Quotes from domestic mills were reported as high as $33 per
hundredweight ($660 per ton) for hot-rolled sheet as of mid-day
Wednesday, but both mill and buyer sources said actual buying
levels were still in the $32- to $32.50-per-hundredweight
($640- to $650-per-ton) range, with most orders trending toward
the lower end.
Though no transactions were reported to AMM below the
$32-per-cwt mark this week, buyers speculated lower prices
might be available for consumers willing to place large orders.
Were all in a lull right now, one Midwest
The stagnation in pricingand speculation that prices
could start to slidecomes amid minimal demand and
flagging lead times (
amm.com, Nov. 21
Were into a little bit of a sloppy period here
where mill lead times havent move past early January or
even late December for hot-rolled, one Northern service
center source told AMM. (As a result), people are holding
off (buying) at that $33 price.
A Southern service center source agreed. There is a
standard number people are throwing out there, but its
the classic game of whos going to hold out, he
said. The mills know theres enough inventory in the
market certainly with all those buys at the low point, that the
service centers and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)
that bought have room to sit back and wait.
Across the board, sources confirmed slower demand from both
service center and end-user customers in the first days of
Definitely theres been a slowing of activity,
the mill source said.
Though many mills lead times appear to have pushed out
starting in mid-October as buyers stocked up before the first
round of hikes, that trend has slowed down, with some
mills lead times even starting to pull back in, several
sources said Wednesday.
I dont think theyre getting the orders they
want, a second Midwest distributor told AMM
Nonetheless, speculation persisted throughout the marketplace
that at least one major flat-rolled producer is planning to
lead a third round of price increase announcements, although it
remained to be seen just when that would occur, particularly
with December looking to be a sideways month for ferrous scrap
trading in some regions (
amm.com, Dec. 4
Theres just not going to be any spike in demand
this time of year, a second Southern distributor said.
The mills arent going to get any shot in the arm
from scrap, it doesnt look like. I think this is a bunch
of smoke and mirrors. Theres nothing there to support (a
price increase) except: Lets keep the