LOS ANGELES The
latest round of steel plate price hikes is being greeted on the
West Coast with the same skepticism as a previous attempt,
although some buyers think there may be an improved chance at
least part of the increase might stick.
Lisle, Ill.-based SSAB
Americas raised plate prices by $25 per ton on Aug. 9 (
amm.com, Aug. 9).The move was followed by Charlotte,
N.C.-based Nucor Corp., which announced a minimum $25 per ton
hike effective Aug. 13 (
amm.com, Aug. 13).
Delivered prices here
for warehouse grades and sizes are estimated for the most part
holding at $780 to $800 per ton ($39 to $40 per hundredweight).
Buyers said an earlier round of $30 increases had a negligible
effect in this market.
Still, some buyers
look for mills to mount a more determined drive to push through
a hike, noting that SSABs planned outage during the third
quarter could help this effort while local service center
inventories are probably lower than a month earlier.
"But I still
dont know how theyre going to do it," a distributor
said about the latest price hike. "Were selling plate
almost below mill replacement cost."
"Our sales price
isnt very much higher than the mill price," another
service center executive said.
While some market
sources attribute this apparent anomaly to heavy import-laden
inventories, others maintain that even recent Asian offers of
as much as $80 per ton under domestic levels dont appear
to be attracting many buyers, who are intent on holding down
their warehouse stocks under any condition.
refineries and other energy-related work continue to be
healthy, if not quite at the peak of 2012, suppliers to these
industries report. Moreover, the latest spot purchases from
service centers to this market have not shown any sign of
moving upward, according to these sources.