NEW YORK Domestic flat-rolled steel pricing has started
to erode amid short mill lead times and a slow recovery in
steel demand so far in 2013, steel buyers told AMM.
Service center sources said they expect the slide to be
short-lived as post-holiday demand improves and pushes out lead
times, but until that happens, there has been little to keep
stagnated prices from deteriorating, steel buyers said.
Spot buyers said that while lead times from many mills remain
average, some are as short as one to two weeks for hot-rolled
Based on that, its hard for pricing to go up,
one Midwest service center source said.
Readily available steel means many distributors see little
reason to stock up. Theres no real need to buy
anything more than next weeks worth of steel if lead
times are so short, one Southern distributor said.
Many buyers said they are continuing to be cautious in their
Were in a holding pattern. Were waiting to
see what happens with mill lead times, the Midwest
The price of hot-rolled steel sheet had been hovering at about
$32 per hundredweight ($640 per ton) from December into the
opening of business in the new year, but by midday Wednesday,
service centers were reporting trades as low as $31 per cwt
($620 per ton).
While many buyers reported as-needed purchasing for specific
projects, some said they were considering shopping for larger
Everybody is being dragged down by a slow order book and
capacity vs. demand, a second Midwest service center
source said. Meanwhile, some distributors said that they have
seen a slow improvement in demand coming out of the holidays.
We saw some pent-up demand early this week, a
second Southern distributor said.
An eventual recovery in demand could force more spot buyers
back into the market, sources said.
Given todays business, (the mills) need
orders, the second Midwest distributor said.
Theyll get some now that theyre being forced
to reduce prices.