NEW YORK Domestic steel
plate prices have started to inch up, but with orders slow this
month, market sources said it remains to be seen where January
prices will settle.
Steel buyers said that quotes
for material for delivery in the new year are higher now that
many mills lead times have pushed out into mid-January.
But they said steel buyers looking for material right now are
buying small tons for December arrival.
"The markets just not
there yet," one mill source told AMM, noting that many
consumers were booking smaller tonnages of products, including
A36 carbon plate. These volumes have been placed largely to
meet specific orders rather than to build inventories, most
service center sources said.
Still, average offers for
discrete carbon plate are as high as $39 per hundredweight
($780 per ton), f.o.b. Midwest mill, representing the full $100
per ton that domestic mills sought in announcing two
back-to-back price increases last month. At the time, the
average price of carbon plate was around $34 per cwt ($680 per
ton), f.o.b. Midwest mill.
"They dont seem willing to
budge from those. Theres a lot of pressure on the mills
to make money," a source at one Midwest distributor said,
although he noted that he had placed large buys prior to the
mills price increases and had not yet paid the higher
"I do need a little," a second
Midwest distributor source said. "But it is December; we tend
to keep our inventories down."
The price of discrete carbon
plate inched up to $36 per hundredweight ($720 per ton) this
past week from $35 per cwt ($700 per ton) previously as buyers
bought small quantities of material.
Sources agreed that there is a
general sentiment that pricing has reached a floor. How much it
will rise remains to be seen, however, as demand has tailed off
and is likely to remain subdued through the end of the
"If we get traction, itll
be next week," the mill source said.
Domestic mills saw a "flurry of
activity" after announcing its first $50-per-ton increase on
published prices in early November (
amm.com, Nov. 7), the second distributor source
said. That flurry has tailed off thanks to depressed demand,
"Many of the mills, including
us, are full for December rolling based on orders taken last
month, and those are at lower numbers," the mill source said.
"So, then its easier to take a position for January at a
Still, distributors and
fabricators who said they need plate for December delivery said
that domestic mills have material available, either direct from
certain mills which still have December rolling available or
which have on-the-ground inventories in certain locations.
Amid that readily available
material, some buyers have said they do not feel compelled yet
to book January material at the higher offer levels.