NEW YORK Steel traders appear somewhat optimistic about
market conditions in the coming months, with many anticipating
an increase in finished steel sheet imports, but many continue
to see oversupply as a major setback to growth.
Those sentiments were reflected in the American Institute for
International Steels (AIIS') December market survey, with
all respondents expecting an increase in cold-rolled sheet and
corrosion-resistant steel imports in the next two months, while
73 percent expect an increase in hot-rolled sheet imports.
All participants said that compared to one to two months
prior, cold-rolled sheet and structural steel imports were
priced moderately higher, while 73 percent said hot-rolled
sheet was priced moderately higher.
Some buyers, however, told AMM that they expect
domestic sheet prices to slide in the short term, causing
potential buyers to think twice about foreign material.
Theres nothing I can see thats good in the
foreseeable future, as far as Im concerned. The foreign
offers arent better than domestic right now, and what
theyre working against is the time factor, one
buyer said of long lead times for foreign material. You
cannot justify it.
Based on orders currently being placed, 94 percent of survey
participants said they expected cut-to-length plate imports to
be about the same in the next three to five months.
All survey participants said there was a moderate
oversupply in corrosion-resistant steel, wire rod and
merchant bars. When it came to hot-rolled steel supply, 91
percent said supply was about right, while 90
percent said cold-rolled steel supply was in moderate
But even with oversupply working against them, some are hoping
2013 will be a positive year. Import statistics seem to
indicate higher figures in 2012 compared with 2011, according
to U.S. Census Bureau data, which traders say means an upward,
albeit slow, trend.
Im fairly optimistic that this year will be a
little better, but well have to see what happens,
said one trader. This market should be slightly better in
terms of demand, and at least higher than last year.