NEW YORK The
steel sheet market remained quiet this week, underpinned by
stable but lackluster demand and mounting market speculation
that another round of price increases could be under way.
Sheet prices have
softened slightly in recent weeks, an easing that market
sources describe as more of a market adjustment than an
outright indication that pricing will return to year-to-date
lows seen in the spring.
At the same time,
talks of another price increase have spread quickly in recent
days, with market sources pointing to the perfect alignment of
low inventory levels and extended lead times.
rumors of another price increase coming out soon, but Im
unsure about it right now," said one mill source. "Ive
also got mixed emotions about it. Because of the inventory
situation, I can see some saying the timing is OK. But such a
move could also turn into a vicious cycle because its not
demand driven and you open yourself back up to imports."
On the consumer side,
service centers and distributors have said demand remains
fairly stable and unlikely to change in the near term. They
added, though, that talk of an increase could serve to stir up
more uncertainty and persuade buyers to get off the fence.
are flat. You can see it as the glass being half
somethingfull or empty, take your pick," said one Midwest
service center source. "$32 per hundredweight is the number and
I think itll become more suspect as this potential
increase talk will stir up a little dust."
SteelBenchmarkers latest report, released Sept. 25,
confirmed continued flatness, with prices remaining virtually
unchanged for the third consecutive report. U.S. hot-rolled
band dipped 0.1 percent to $717 per tonne ($650 per ton) from
$718 per tonne ($651 per ton) two weeks earlier, while
cold-rolled slipped 1.1 percent to $826 per tonne ($749 per
ton) from $835 per tonne ($758 per ton) in the same
Other sources said
that with rumors of lower deals being cut, the market looked
quieter this week.
"Its kind of
slowed down in the last couple of days," said one mill source.
"What we have on our side is that customers need to replenish
inventories, although some imports are helping address that and
allowing buyers the luxury of waiting a bit. But, people have
to start buying again and pretty soon.
Others said that
continued stability, even in a quieter market, is a good
"There is definitely
some good news out there. Things have been nice and steady.
Theres more activity this week and our core business has
been very, very steady," said a second Midwest service center