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CSI unlikely to join price hike parade: buyers

Keywords: Tags  California Steel industries, flat-rolled steel, West Coast, steel price hike, steel distributors, USS-Posco Industries, steel imports, steel service centers Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — The fate of the latest round of flat-rolled steel price hikes may be in doubt on the West Coast as one of the region’s two major producers has indicated to some buyers that it’s unlikely to implement an increase.

Fontana, Calif.-based California Steel Industries Inc. (CSI) has recently indicated to certain customers not to expect a general price hike on hot-rolled, hot-rolled pickled and oiled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet in line with most major producers east of the Rockies as well as the other major flat-rolled producer in the West. That producer, Pittsburg, Calif.-based USS-Posco Industries Inc., earlier told customers it would raise the price of hot-rolled pickled and oiled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet by $20 per ton ($1 per hundredweight), effective Aug. 7 (, Aug. 10).

Buyers said this week that not only hasn’t CSI announced an overall price hike but certain customers have been told that the company isn’t inclined to boost prices, which have been raised at least twice over the past few months.

CSI couldn’t be reached for comment.

One buyer, who wasn’t told specifically by CSI that it won’t be raising tags, said he’s nevertheless had the impression in his most recent conversations with mill representatives that "they’re very concerned about the price level on imports."

South Korean hot-rolled coils, viewed as one of the major import factors on the West Coast, have recently been quoted at $30.50 to $30.75 cwt ex-dock for expected arrival in October or November, according to market sources. This compares with reported initial asking prices on domestic hot-rolled of $34 to $35 cwt, although negotiated prices can be lower.

Some service center customers who were informed by CSI that it won’t be raising prices—and who agree this is the best course—also observed that many of their counterparts are looking ahead to a period of "seasonal weakness" in the fourth quarter, when their purchasing will probably slow down.

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