NEW YORK Nucor
Corp. has increased transaction prices by a minimum of $30 per
ton for its plate products in an apparent leading move after
sources said the previous round of hikes effectively fizzled
The higher prices for
all new orders for carbon, alloy and heat-treated plate are
effective immediately, Nucor said in a July 11 letter to
ArcelorMittal USA LLC
and SSAB Americas issued separate announcements later in the
day that they also were raising plate transaction prices by a
minimum of $30 per ton.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor did not provide a reason for the
increase, but market players said it appeared to be a way to
get prices back off the floor after mills were forced to give
back at least a portion of an earlier increase.
Earlier this year,
domestic plate mills were partially successful in lifting plate
tags as part of an announced $60-per-ton increase, but prices
began to soften again in late spring after hitting a high of
$37 per hundredweight ($740 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill in
early April (
amm.com, June 7). AMMs plate price
remained steady this past week at $35 per cwt ($700 per ton)
f.o.b. Midwest mill, although tonnages at around $34.50 per cwt
($690 per ton) were possible in parts of the South, sources
With prices having
lost their earlier momentum, some sources said they
werent optimistic the increases would stick.
been any significant uptick on the plate side of things to
warrant them coming across with a price increase," a Midwest
buyer said. "I dont understand how they can arbitrarily
But others said higher
raw material costs in July along with stronger steel sheet
prices were two factors lending support to the domestic plate
Midwest Ferrous Scrap Index for shred settled up 5.4
percent this week at $381.06 per gross ton vs. $361.38 last
month, while AMMs Midwest Ferrous Scrap Index
for No. 1 busheling settled at $410.74 per ton, up 8.8 percent
from $377.37 in the same comparison (
amm.com, July 10).
"It makes sense that
this increase could be encouraged by scrap moving up," said a
source at a U.S. plate mill. "However, there are no indicators
for us that anything different is going to happen in the market
demandwise in the coming weeks. Lead times for us are still two
to three weeks. Of course, U.S. mills havent been
reporting good quarterly results, which could give them
financial pressure, too."
At the same time, the
steel sheet market, which often moves in a similar direction as
the plate market, has seen several weeks of steady climbs after
three successful rounds of increases were sustained by
supply-driven issues (
amm.com, July 11). But plate players note that
fundamentals in those markets are different.
"On the sheet side,
there are a number of blast furnaces not working or planning to
be down," a second Midwest buyer said. "The same dynamic
isnt working for plate."
have not made much of a dent in the U.S. plate market in recent
months. Some 55,780 tonnes of cut-to-length plate was expected
to hit U.S. shores in June, according to license data from the
U.S. Commerce Departments Import Administration, the
lowest figure since January and a far cry from the 102,056
tonnes imported in June 2012.
upside could be low inventory levels held by U.S. distributors,
sources said. According to Metals Service Center Institute
data, U.S. distributors held 947,000 tonnes of carbon plate in
May, down from nearly 1.1 million tonnes in the same month last
year, although months of supply at current shipping rates was
steady at 2.7 months.