LOS ANGELES The West
Coast carbon steel plate market has failed to respond to mill
price hike attempts as service centers, in particular, struggle
to maintain levels seen in late 2012.
Delivered prices for warehouse
grades and sizes from domestic mills outside the West Coast are
estimated at $780 to $800 per ton ($39 to $40 per
hundredweight) to larger service centers. That means domestic
mills late-2012 announced price hikeswhich, before
the holidays, were given a chance of at least partially
catching onhavent taken hold and in some cases
appear to be giving way to eroding prices.
Depending on the buyer, this
represents a price thats essentially flat with the fourth
quarter or possibly down by about $20 per ton ($1 per cwt).
"We really thought that part of
that would stick, but no part of it has held," one buyer said
of hikes that at one point totaled $100 per ton ($5 per cwt).
Lead times from domestic producers are reportedly as short as
three to five weeks to rolling, not including shipping from the
Midwest, an interval one market observer said was as close to
"hand to mouth" as possible.
Imports, considered the main
culprit behind a current inventory overhang, are still seen in
the market, although South Korea isnt as active as it was
in 2012. Instead, Taiwanese plate has reportedly been offered
for March/April shipment at around $740 to $760 per ton ($37 to
$38 per cwt), still not enough to attract buyers who are
nervous about what they see as continuing oversupply.
Moreover, in some cases it might
make sense for buyers to source material from their colleagues
rather than from the mill.
"Im seeing a lot of
excess inventory " notices from other
distributors, one service center buyer said. "When you start
seeing those lists, it tells you people still have way too much
Although the service center
market was described as slow, some fabrication
segmentsincluding bridge construction and some
energy-related sectorsappear firm.