LOS ANGELES Flat-rolled steel prices are moving up on
the West Coast, but a number of buyers remain hesitant.
The latest domestic hot-rolled coil prices in the market are
estimated at $34 to $35 per hundredweight ($680 to $700 per
ton), approximately $1.75 to $2.25 per cwt above what many
buyers were paying before the latest series of price-hike
California Steel Industries Inc. (CSI), Fontana, Calif.,
notified customers last week it had already closed its order
books for January, market sources said. CSI said it would raise
hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized steel prices by at least
$40 per ton in mid-October, while the regions other major
flat-rolled producer, Pittsburg, Calif.-based USS-Posco
Industries Inc., slated hikes on cold-rolled and galvanized
steel on the same date (
amm.com, Oct. 18
These increases were partially successful though some several
AMM that they were initially able to line
up material at the previous lower prices. The two producers
subsequently boosted prices on a case-by-case basis, market
While higher prices appear to be taking hold, a substantial
number of buyers, looking at short mill lead times and
concerned about the likely state of demand in the first
quarter, say that theres little reason to make tonnage
commitments beyond their absolute minimum requirements.
Im paying more than in November and December, but
Im not buying very much, a large distributor said.
He was able to line up of most his requirements for the balance
of 2012 at pre-increase levels. But like most buyers in the
area, hes not yet ready to make serious commitments.
Chinese cold-rolled coil is one product for which the price
differential between imports and domestics has lately narrowed.
About two months ago, it hit a low of approximately $32 per cwt
($660 per ton) base, ex-dock, but with recent quotes to the
trade, prices are now reported in the range of $34 per cwt
($680 per ton). Prices for domestic product have increased by a
This development trims the price difference to around $80 per
ton from an earlier $120 or more, while forcing buyers to
speculate on the markets level in April, when the
material is due to arrive.
"Theres no way I can make
a bet on that," said a buyer of the Chinese cold-rolled