NEW YORK At least two mills have increased base prices on steel plate products in a move that buyers say will likely solidify an increase pushed through last month.
Nucor Corp. hiked base prices on all new orders for carbon, alloy and heat-treated plate by a minimum of $25 per ton effective immediately, it said in an Aug. 13 letter to customers. The announcement by the Charlotte, N.C.-based mill follows a leading move by SSAB Americas last week (amm.com, Aug. 9
But, while those increases may smooth over an earlier round of $30 per ton hikes in July (amm.com, July 11
), some wondered why higher prices would be warranted given stable but lackluster demand.
Its not demand driven, said a Southeast service center source. Were seeing no uptick in plate orders both on spot market or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) orders.
Last week, plate prices held steady at $720 per ton ($36 per hundredweight), while some buyers said $710 per ton ($35.50 per cwt) was possible in certain competitive regions. In the South, discrete plate transactions were as low as $680 to $690 per ton ($34 to $34.50 per cwt). Sources added that mills have remained disciplined in an effort to push for higher pricing.
The mills are trying to hold the line on plate. They definitely were not cutting many deals, said one Northeast service center source. No one was getting a great deal, so well see how this round goes.
A number of factors could contribute to the push for higher pricing, buyers added, including lean inventories at the distribution level, stronger sheet prices and an outage at SSABs Mobile, Ala., facility (amm.com, July 29
). The outage has yet to happen, a company spokeswoman told AMM
, although it is scheduled for some time in the rest of the third quarter.
Obviously, scrap was flat (this month) so you cant use that as your reasoning, said one Midwest service center source. Sheet prices are getting stronger, and plate usually follows. But, mills didnt get all of the last increase, so maybe theyre trying to support that one with this one.
Others, though, add that the market outlook is stable.
Bookings havent been extremely poor, but it just hasnt been all that great lately, said one mill source. Were looking pretty good for August and part of September.Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 14. Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misstated the time frame for SSAB Americas' Mobile, Ala. planned outage