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.
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.