LOS ANGELES Flat-rolled
steel prices are falling on the West Coast on what appears to
be ample domestic supply from mills both inside and outside the
Hot-rolled coils delivered in
this market from domestic mills have declined about $20 per ton
during the past month to a reported $640 to $660 per ton ($32
to $33 per hundredweight) for medium to large service
The decline is seen as being
driven more by pricing from domestic mills east of the Rockies
rather than by such foreign sources as South Korea and Mexico,
whose prices in recent months have become less attractive to
some buyers. How soon offshore mills might react to their
diminishing competitiveness isnt clear.
Neither of the West Coasts
major flat-rolled steel producers, which had posted higher
prices for March and reportedly passed on April hikes, have yet
to announce general increases for May, according to market
sources. Fontana, Calif.-based California Steel Industries
Inc.s last reported increase, announced in February, was
$30 per ton on hot-rolled sheet products and $50 per ton on
cold-rolled and galvanized sheet, effective Feb. 28. Pittsburg,
Calif.-based USS-Posco Industries Inc. previously said it would
boost hot-rolled picked and oiled by $30 per ton and
cold-rolled and galvanized by $50 per ton effective March 1 (
amm.com, March 20).
While most buyers agreed that
hot-rolled lead times are now officially into May, they have
little doubt they could find a mill willing to ship material in
Meanwhile, the price of Chinese
cold-rolled productwhich dominated the commercial-quality
coil market for most of last yearhas been quoted in a
range of $680 to $700 per ton ($34 to $35 per cwt) for delivery
this summer, about $1 per cwt less than earlier offers but
still substantially higher than its lowest 2012 prices.
Moreover, there are indications that locally produced
cold-rolled tonnage is being offered at least $50 per ton lower
than it was two months ago in an effort to win back market
share lost to the Chinese.
Perhaps whats most
striking in the current market is a growing sentiment that any
pricing turnaround is unlikely in the next quarter, or possibly
even the next six months.
"I see prices going in the same
directiondownto November," a service center buyer
said. "From now until then, my job is to turn my steel into
cash so Ill have the money to buy steel then at the
years lowest prices."