BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. Steel plate buyers believe a near-term uptick in demand is needed before spot prices follow the recent hikes announced by domestic mills.
Last week, SSAB Americas led the charge by lifting spot carbon and alloy plate prices by $30 a ton effective with March 17 shipments, an action that was quickly followed by Nucor Corp.s immediate $30-a-ton move (amm.com, Feb. 19
) and ArcelorMittal USA LLCs $60-a-ton increase for April deliveries (amm.com, Feb. 22
). Buyers had earlier questioned the prospects of an increase in the context of lackluster demand and continued to state that prices quoted have not yet seemed to change.
Its an effort to stop the bleeding, one Midwest buyer commented on the move. But I dont think demand is there.
Much of the doubt overhanging the market is rooted in a lack of major activity in the plate market, sources said. Others repeated that they have yet to see the latest round of price increases take effect in their market.
Discrete plate prices held at $35.50 per hundredweight ($710 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill for the week prior to Feb. 21, while buyers in the Northeast said that prices slightly under $35 per cwt ($700 per ton) were possible. They added that with additional tonnages, prices were negotiable.
Im unsure how much (of the announced increases), if any, is going to stick. Some people are talking about it but there hasnt been any movement in the spot market numbers yet, said a second Midwest buyer. As far as the plate side goes, were still able to get tons in March easily.
Domestic mills are said to have seen stronger booking weeks recently, which may point to a potential upswing in prices. However, others said lead times remain short.
Im surprised at how quickly steel is coming. I havent seen any price increases yet and their inputs definitely havent increased, said a third Midwest buyer. Its still been pretty quiet out there.
Others continue to cite softer end markets across the board, indicating that as long as end-users are not busy, they will only buy what steel they need.
Things are kind of slack right now and were disappointed. Were not seeing the inquiries we had in the past and our phones just arent ringing, said a fourth Midwest buyer.