NEW YORK Steel traders anticipate a steady market in the
upcoming months, with many agreeing that steel import volumes
are unlikely to change in the near term.
The majority of respondents in an American Institute for
International Steel (AIIS) market survey said that, based on
orders currently being placed, imports will remain the same for
the next three to five months.
But 96 percent of respondents expect hot-rolled sheet imports
to increase in the next two months, based on already-placed
orders, although 78 percent expect orders will remain the same
in the next three to five months.
A number of traders told AMM in the past that hot-rolled deals
have been very difficult on the spot market due to softening
Things are just more or less the same. Business is just
the same as its always been, one trader said.
It hasnt been easy to sell imports all along.
Some 64 percent of survey participants said cold-rolled imports
would remain unchanged, 96 percent said cut-to-length plate
orders would stay the same and 100 percent said
corrosion-resistant steel and wire rod volumes would remain
steady for the next three to five months.
Business is OK for us. Orders are smaller and
Im afraid my inventory is losing value, said one
flat-rolled buyer, adding that there is little incentive
currently to buy imported material since prices are so close to
domestic prices. I hear that domestic mills are lowering
their coated product prices. To the market, that means things
are softening. What I can tell you is that it means our
inventory is going down, too.
Comparing booking prices, 100 percent of survey participants
said that corrosion-resistant steel prices remain stable
compared with one to two months ago, while 96 percent of
respondents said that cut-to-length plate prices remain stable.
While domestic players and importers usually enjoy a healthy
uptick at the start of the year, the expected bump seems to
have been delayed, according to David Phelps, president of the
Some believe a seasonality uptick is on its way. But
its hard to know where we are and when it
will happen, he told AMM. It usually happens
in January or February, but a lot of people think its
going to be delayed.
Some 2.2 million tonnes of steel were expected to hit U.S.
shores in December, a 12-month low, according to license data
from the Commerce Departments Import Administration.
But just because things are steady, traders said, doesnt
mean that business conditions look good. In fact, traders say
that selling foreign steel has not got any easier.
I dont think anything has zip at all.
In fact, everything is just blah, a second trader said.
Theres no zip in the spot market and its just
as dull as can be. I may be a broken record, but its
really just dull.