NEW YORK Concerns
continue to hang over the steel plate market over whether price
increases announced by domestic mills will hold in the new
year, and sources say that there will be little to support the
higher offer levels without the usual seasonal uptick in demand
come the new year.
"Some of the pricing (increase)
has stuck, (but) theres a certain amount of hesitation as
to whether it will stay that way and whether it will hold," one
distributor told AMM.
Domestic mills have offered
steel plate products at higher levels for January delivery, but
many spot buyers said they have only been buying what they need
in the meantime.
"Demand has remained fairly
flat, and the mills pricing is what it is," a second
service center source said, noting that he hasnt booked
at the higher prices that domestic mills have been quoting
because he cant yet translate that price increase to his
Domestic mills are said to be
quoting offers as high as $39 per hundredweight ($780 per ton)
for discrete carbon plate in certain regions east of the
Rockies, but due to limited buying activity the average price
of carbon-grade discrete plate has stabilized over the past two
weeks at $37 per cwt ($740 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill. That
represents about $60 per ton of the total $100-per-ton increase
in published prices that domestic plate mills have tried to
introduce after making two announcements in November.
Fundamental demand might not be
there to support such increases, sources said. Lead
timesseen as an indicator of demandremain short,
with material both readily available from mills
inventories and depots and production at many mills not yet
pushed out through the end of January.
"Theres nothing out there
encouraging as far as demand goes to warrant buying anything
more than you need," one service center source in the South
Many consumers are buying only
on an as-needed basis.
"Last week there was some
activity, but this week, as we get closer to the holidays,
its pretty dead," one mill source said.
Whether the plate market will
see a seasonal pickup come Jan. 2 remains to be seen, sources