shipments during September are fairly even with the pace of the
past 60 to 90 days, but pricing has become less certain,
according to U.S. service center operators.
"Our shipments last
month were on par with the last three months and are about the
same through mid-September," a source at an upper Great Lakes
flat-rolled distributor told AMM. "If theres a
good deal on steel Im going to buy it, (but) prices are
A cold-rolled and
coated sheet distributor source predicted that the fourth
quarter wont be very strong. "I think prices will drop
off. They are already showing signs of weakness in spite of
tightness in cold-rolled," he said, citing Fort Wayne,
Ind.-based Steel Dynamics Inc.s inability to roll that
material until November (
amm.com, Sept. 13).
Customers are not able
to forecast very far ahead. "Theyre going hand-to-mouth
and everyone is still keeping inventories pretty low and buying
as they need," he said.
In the Mid-Atlantic
region, "there is not a lot of steel around" due to
consistently low inventories throughout the supply chain, one
trader and distributor said. "Theres talk of a price
increase but no one is rushing to buy." Some customers have
complained about current pricing, and while "there is not a lot
of cheap steel to average down, (those customers) are not
stepping up to buy what it takes" to move the market in one
direction or the other.
New import offers have
dried up, she added. Those seeking to beat domestic
second-quarter price hikes bought foreign material so "we are
not seeing unsold parcels arriving. There are not a lot of
futures sitting on docks unsold."
An East Coast service
center operator agreed that shipment volume has not picked up
in September and suggested that current pricing will be
difficult to hold up based on demand. "I think prices will move
south, but not by much," he said. "The phones are not ringing
off the hook. What that means is were buying very little,
only to replace stock."
pointed to oversupply, short mill lead times and erosion in
scrap pricing as factors placing downward pressure on
flat-rolled prices for the fourth quarter.
U.S. and Canadian
service centers shipped more than 4.11 million tons of steel
products in August, up 4.8 percent from 3.92 million tons the
previous month, according to the latest Metals Service Center
totaled 7.94 million tons (2.2 months supply at current
shipping rates) at the end of August, up 1.3 percent from 7.84
million tons (2.3 months supply) a month earlier, but
Canadian inventories of 1.39 million tons (2.9 months
supply) were down 5 percent from 1.46 million tons (3.2
months supply) in the same comparison.
shipments by U.S. and Canadian service centers totaled 32.06
million tons, down 3.8 percent from 33.32 million tons in the
first eight months of last year.