NEW YORK Evraz Plc expects a "significant" pickup in its order book and "positive pricing dynamics" in the U.S. flat products market in the first quarter.
The optimism follows a year when the London-based company, which owns Chicago-based Evraz Inc. North America, saw both crude and finished steel production rise at its U.S. operations, although prices for all products except tubulars fell.
Evrazs crude steel production in North America totaled 2.42 million tonnes last year, up 3.9 percent from 2.33 million tonnes in 2011, according to the companys annual production report, while finished steel output of 2.66 million tonnes was up 0.6 percent from 2.65 million tonnes.
The most significant increase was seen by construction products, which jumped 9.3 percent to 330,000 tonnes, while tubular output rose 2.5 percent to 869,000 tonnes.
Output of flat-rolled products fell 3.2 percent to 975,000 tonnes, while railway products dipped 0.8 percent to 486,000 tonnes.
Tubular products sales prices averaged $1,509 per tonne in 2012, up 1.5 percent from $1,486 the previous year, Evraz said, but average prices for flat-rolled products fell 10.3 percent to $1,017 per tonne from $1,134, prices for construction products dropped 5.7 percent to $845 per tonne from $897, and railway products fell 3.3 percent to $989 per tonne from $1,023.
Evrazs North American tubing production rose significantly in the fourth quarter, increasing 15.2 percent to 242,000 tonnes compared with the third quarter thanks to higher output of spiral weld pipe for a large Canadian buyer. Production of construction products rose 12.7 percent to 89,000 tonnes in the same comparison due to "healthy" demand for rod and bar products, the company said.
However, flat-rolled production fell 7.5 percent to 221,000 tonnes in the quarter-to-quarter comparison, largely due to lower specialty plate output from the companys mill in Claymont, Del., which was idled during Hurricane Sandy, as well as planned maintenance at the companys Portland, Ore., and Regina, Saskatchewan, facilities.
Evraz said the order book at its Pueblo rail mill in Colorado is full until the end of the first quarter.