NEW YORK Steel plate
prices have retreated from their 2013 highs in recent days as a
combination of lower scrap prices and difficult end-market
business has caused some downward pressure, sources said.
Prices had firmed slightly in
recent months as mills successfully held on to part of the
$60-per-ton increases implemented earlier this year
(amm.com, April 5), but that strength has started to
dissipate, sources told AMM.
Spot cut-to-length carbon steel
plate sales were reported this past week at an average price of
$36.50 per cwt ($730 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill, down from
the $37-per-cwt ($740-per-ton) range reported since early
April, with some buyers and sellers reporting larger-tonnage
deals as low as $36 per cwt ($720 per ton). Prices in the South
were reported even lower, with most spot sales there taking
place in the $35.50- to $36-per-cwt ($710- to $720-per-ton)
The softening prices come at a
time when the plate resale business has been hard hit as too
many sellers chase the same volume of orders, sources said. As
a result, distributors say they cant compete without
demanding lower prices at the mill level.
"Mills dont make a public
announcement on decreases, but they do on increases. We had our
(purchase prices from the mills) drop about $1 (per cwt)," one
Midwest service center source said. "Theres no demand
from service centers, and I wasnt passing on any of the
At the same time, scrap prices
fell about $20 per gross ton across the Midwest in May,
stymieing the plate markets potential upside, sources
"With the successive degrees of
falling scrap prices month over monthyou take it two
months or so, (there has been a) $40 fall in scrapit has
a huge implication on the finished side," one mill source said.
"I think this $20 (easing in some mills plate prices) is
coinciding with scrap going down $20 this month."
Meanwhile, market players report
little change in end-use demand and continued razor-thin
"Our inquiry levels are good,
but orders are getting tough to come by," a second Midwest
service center said. "Its been a quiet second quarter.
For the most part, its not a good situation."
A second mill source agreed that
demand is steady but that concerns remain.
"In relative terms, the plate
market has been pretty good. Right now, though, pricing is
pretty fragile because theres been some renewed offers
for imports coming in," he said. "In general, quarter-two
demand is a little iffy. Demand is stable but on the soft end
of stable. Were not seeing any big collapse in plate
demand, but theres certainly no rally."