NEW YORK Steel
sheet prices in the Midwest continued to soften this past week,
but market participants contacted by AMM believe
pricing will hold steady in the upcoming weeks.
rather busy this week and the herd to buy seems to be moving
again," one northern service center source said Sept. 20.
"Theres been a little softness from the mills, but
its more or less holding firm. Its been an
adjustment rather than a drop."
Hot-rolled prices fell
to $32 per hundredweight ($640 per ton) this past week, down
from $32.50 per cwt ($650 per ton) a week earlier, although
lower deals were reported from certain mills. Cold-rolled coil
held steady at $37.50 per cwt ($750 per ton) as sources
underscored the strength in the cold-rolled market.
While the softening
was something the market had expected for the fall, the divide
in recent weeks was over whether prices had the potential to
drop to the $28-per-cwt ($560-per-ton) level seen in the
However, with lead
times more extended than they had been, multi-month low
inventory levels and steady demand, the market could just be
going through a mild adjustment, some said.
"I dont believe
for a second that prices are going down. Theres no
foreign and theres no steel availability short term," one
East Coast service center source said.
U.S. service center
flat-rolled inventories stood at 4.6 million tons (2.0
months supply) at the end of August, down 14.3 percent
from 5.37 million tons (2.3 months supply) a year
earlier, according to the latest Metals Service Center
additional supply with the return of Pittsburgh-based U.S.
Steel Corp.s Lake Erie Works, among others, also seemed
to have subsided (
amm.com, Sept. 3).
"The only way the
extra trickle-down effect will happen is if demand falls apart,
and I dont think there are any indicators that it will,"
the East Coast service center source said. "No one is building
inventory and there isnt a report out there that says
inventories are rising. If you take those two points,
theres no way prices will fall apart."
However, while pricing
seems to have softened, some continued to hesitate on future
direction. "The bottom line is that things are softening more
than you and I know," a Midwest service center source said.
"There are some mills who are willing to give you a pretty
regular base price but cutting deep discounts on extras."