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More domestic steel mills back flat-rolled hike

Keywords: Tags  ArcelorMittal, steel price, price increase, AK Steel, U.S. Steel, catherine ngai

NEW YORK — A number of major steelmakers have thrown their weight behind a carbon flat-rolled price increase as they look to reverse weeks of softening tags.

ArcelorMittal USA Inc. said it will raise minimum base prices for all carbon flat-rolled steel products effective immediately as it looks to restore "a fair value for (its) products and services," according to a letter sent to customers.

The Chicago-based steelmaker said its new base price for hot-rolled steel is $650 per ton ($32.50 per hundredweight), its new cold-rolled price is $750 per ton ($37.50 per cwt) and its new hot-dipped galvanized price is $760 per ton ($38 per cwt). The new minimum prices are in effect until Feb. 6, ArcelorMittal said in the letter.

A number of sources said the company attributed the need to raise prices to "market manipulation" and discounting of a major price index, which ArcelorMittal said has had a "dampening effect on industry spot prices."

The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. also is said to have raised prices, with its sheet prices reportedly slated to rise $50 per ton ($2.50 per cwt), a number of buyers told AMM. U.S. Steel did not return calls for comment.

Other mills confirmed to AMM that they also intend to raise their own prices by $50 per ton later this week.

The mills’ increases come two days after AK Steel Corp. led with a $40-per-ton ($2-per-cwt) increase on Jan. 21 (, Jan. 22).

With more mills throwing their weight behind the increase, a hike will likely be "universally supported" by other mills, one buyer said. "I think the mills are saying enough is enough—they just want to stop the bleeding."

"The mills would be stupid to not try. If there are a couple of big boys doing it, why not give it a shot?" said a second buyer, noting that most of his suppliers were nonetheless still offering discounts.

But others said that whether the announced increases will stick in full or in part remains to be seen.

"With what everyone is saying, I don’t believe a word of this (price hike)," a third buyer said. "The mills need to put their game face on and hold prices. The problem is that they always cut deals."

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