LOS ANGELES West Coast prices for flat-rolled steel remain steady as one of the regions two major producers continues to hold out on the latest price hike and buyers brace for what is becoming a traditional end-of-year slowdown.
Fontana, Calif.-based California Steel Industries Inc. hasnt yet joined the latest round of industry price hikes on its line of hot-rolled, hot-rolled pickled and oiled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet, according to market sources (amm.com, Aug. 14). Pittsburg, Calif.-based USS-Posco Industries Inc., CSIs main rival in the region, previously told customers it would raise prices for hot-rolled picked and oiled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet by $20 per ton effective Aug. 7 (amm.com, Aug. 9).
While import offers circulated to the trade have generally been rising, some buyers of foreign steel say they havent seen an increase.
"During the past three months, my (import) prices have stayed exactly the same," according to one hot-rolled buyer, who believes offshore mills with steady customers dont want to risk losing them now, particularly if U.S. prices begin to weaken going into the holiday season, as they have the past few years.
Hot-rolled coil on the West Coast is reported at $32.50 to $34 per hundredweight ($650 to $680 per ton), depending on the size of the buyer, while import offers from such sources as South Korea are at $30 to $31.50 per cwt ($600 to $630 per ton).
Cold-rolled coil in the region, generally reported at $36.50 to $38 per cwt ($730 to $760 per ton), has in certain cases been sold significantly below $36 per cwt, sources said. While some Chinese cold-rolled coil has recently been offered as high as $34 per cwt, some quotes have gone as low as $32.50 per cwt.
Moreover, with recent indications that prices east of the Rockies arent as firm as they were a month ago, Midwest mills that havent been competitive on the West Coast for the past four to six months might again become viable in the region. This makes buying overseas on long lead times all the more risky.
"Yes, some of these import prices look attractive, but people arent confident enough about their own business to go out three to four months," one manufacturer said.