NEW YORK Domestic
flat-rolled producers have pushed steel buyers to book at
higher offer levels since announcing a round of price increases
in the past week, but the prospect of rising prices has done
little to spur additional business, steel buyers said.
"Nobody is out buying extra
steel," a Midwest distributor source told AMM. "(The
increase) hasnt spurred any extra buying. People are
hanging very tight and buying what they have to buy.
Steel buyers reported offers for
hot-rolled sheet as high as $33.50 per hundredweight ($670 per
ton), but the threat of rising prices following a recent round
of hikes prompted few to book more material beyond what they
need for immediate orders.
"Im not sure if they
rattled the tree and a few apples fell. Im sure they did.
But all of our suppliers honored pricing" established at the
end of last week, a source at a northern distributor said.
"I have everything I really
need. All Im doing is filling holes on some items," a
source at a manufacturer said, noting that he booked hot-rolled
material earlier this week at last weeks negotiated price
and plans to buy only small tonnages as orders come up before
the years end.
Steel buyers have noted that,
among other factors, mill lead times have failed to extend, an
indicator of the slow-to-increase demand that continues to hang
over the market.
"Lead times, scrap and the
year-end: There are too many things in neutral," the northern
distributor source said, noting that he expects to see demand
tick up as people look to increase inventories and book for
specific projects in the new year.
Meanwhile, many sources agreed
that the increases of varying amounts introduced by major
producers late last week and this week will help shore up the
previous hikes. The question has become one of when, rather
than if, the increases will be realized, some sources said.
"I think the mills are trying
hard to make the effort in pushing prices up," one trader said.
"There seems to be less leakage (price deterioration) than
SteelBenchmarkers Dec. 10
report, published Wednesday, put hot-rolled band at $705 per
tonne ($639 per net ton), up 1.7 percent from $693 per tonne
($628 per net ton) two weeks earlier (
amm.com, Nov. 28) but still below offer levels of
$33.50 per cwt.
SteelBenchmarker put cold-rolled
coil at $818 per tonne ($742 per net ton), up 1.2 percent from
$808 per tonne ($733 per net ton) two weeks ago.
Catherine Ngai, New York,
contributed to this story.