LOS ANGELES A brief
uptick in commodity-grade carbon steel plate prices on the West
Coast appears to be coming to an end as $60-per-ton domestic
hikes announced in the first quarter are eroding, market
"The mills are now giving back
the increase they got earlier this year, and its
happening faster than usual," said a California service center
source, noting that, except for recently, plate pricing cycles
on the West Coast usually last a bit longer than they do in
other parts of the country.
"Last year, it took six months
for them to give back their increases," he said.
Delivered prices for warehouse
grades and sizes of domestic platewhich at one time had
reached a peak of $840 to $860 per ton ($42 to $43 per
hundredweight) on a delivered basis to medium and large service
centershave fallen in recent weeks to an estimated range
of $800 to $820 per ton ($40 to $41 per cwt), depending on the
buyers size, location and history with specific mills,
according to market sources.
A possible contributor to the
pricing fallback is the fact that mills can no longer take
advantage of maintenance outages that had temporarily pushed
out delivery lead times, which are reportedly now coming in
with the end of the outages.
One plate buyer noted that while
domestic producers insist theyll be able to maintain
recent hikes, hes nevertheless getting quotes that
represent price cuts.
Another buyer pointed to lowered
expectations created by price erosion. "The mills were telling
us the second half of the year should be better than the first,
but now ... "
Meanwhile, while the West Coast
region had been plagued with heavy warehouse inventories in
late 2012 and into the first quartermuch of it
representing foreign steelsome market sources now see
local distributor stocks declining to the point where certain
common sizes arent readily available for buyout by other
service centers. Other sources have said that increasing
volumes of plate are being offered in the West Coast market by
distributors east of the Rockies.
Moreover, imports being quoted for June and July shipment
from Asia are reportedly in a range of $725 to $735 per ton
($36.25 to $36.75 per cwt), with Mexican material around $720
per ton ($36 per cwt) for delivery sooner.