LOS ANGELES A
recent firming in West Coast steel plate prices appears to be
losing steam as mills seem more willing to bargain, according
to buyers in the region.
Prices on warehouse
grades and sizes of domestic plate, which last month reached a
delivered base as high as $820 per ton ($41 per hundredweight),
are now seen in a broader range that has fallen to about $40
per cwt and under, according to market sources.
The earlier price
firming was seen as reflecting most of a $30-per-ton announced
hike by domestic producers, although not yet incorporating a
second increase of $25 per ton. But buyers noted, for example,
that recent plate mill maintenance outages no longer seem to be
an issue, and some believe producers are more willing to deal
than they were just weeks ago.
"They keep announcing
increases but I dont believe it," said a fabricator who
was inclined to accept the mill hike announcements but who now
sees material offered at prices that contradict any notion of a
"If you have anything
worth looking at, the mills are willing to negotiate," a
service center executive said.
South Korea continues
to be the source of most import offers, with base prices
estimated at $34.50 to $35 per cwt ex-dock, although some
sources said their most recent quotes show increases of about
$1 per cwt over this level, which they are unsure will hold. In
any case, some buyers think imports in general arent
especially attractive since many service centers are reluctant
to have additional material arrive before year-end.
The energy and
petrochemical market continues to count among the strongest
consumers of plate. While some fabricators order books in
this market have declined for October, bidding for new projects
remains robust as other sources report substantial amounts of
new work being released.