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West Coast flat-rolled steel prices steady

Keywords: Tags  Steel, prices, flat rolled steel, West Coast, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Flat-rolled steel prices on the West Coast remain steady, but domestic mills and importers are knocking heads for larger buyers’ business.

The latest offers generally indicate prices, for the most part, remain in ranges established over the past month, with few instances of price erosion greater than $10 per ton for the majority of buyers.

That’s the good news during a time of year that several buyers had expected pronounced pricing weakness. But in those spots where import and domestic flat-rolled steel battle directly for relatively bigger tonnages, “prices are all over the place; it’s hard to know just where they are,” one market source said.

Domestic hot-rolled sheet prices on the West Coast are generally at $640 to $670 ($32 to $33.50 per hundredweight), depending on the size of the buyer and its relationship with the mill, down from $32.50 to $34 per cwt ($650 to $680 per ton) late last month (, Aug. 29). But in areas where South Korean hot-rolled sheet is reported at about $31 to $31.50 per cwt ($620 to $630 per ton), large buyers have seen prices drift as low as $29 per cwt ($580 per ton) for arrival late this year.

“(South) Korean mills appear eager for business now,” one buyer said.

While commercial quality domestic cold-rolled coil is nominally reported at about $37 to $38 per cwt ($740 to $760 per ton), some domestic material has nevertheless been sold at less than $34 per cwt on what is described as a foreign-fighter basis to compete with Chinese cold-rolled sheet, sources said. The latest quotes from China on cold-rolled steel are reported in a range of $34 to $34.50 per cwt ($680 to $690 per ton) for delivery later this year or early in 2014, although these sources claim initial quotes in recent months have often tended to settle as much as $1.50 per cwt ($30 per ton) below starting offers for significant tons.

Fontana, Calif.-based California Steel Industries Inc. (CSI), one of the region’s two major flat-rolled producers, has asked customers to submit their requirements through year-end by Sept. 23 for hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet (, Sept. 18). Despite this, some buyers said they are confident they’ll be able to plug additional tons into their overall requirements, or find them elsewhere if the need arises.

There has been no indication that the other major producer in the region, USS-Posco Industries Inc., Pittsburg, Calif., has implemented a similar policy.

In any case, few buyers have voiced fears of having trouble finding steel in the coming months, either from domestic mills outside the region or overseas.

“There are no mills turning down orders today,” one manufacturer told AMM.

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