NEW YORK Demand
in the steel plate market remained flat this week, with
sources anticipating continued steadiness into the fourth
"Things have been very
flat, pretty much like all of 2013. Theres no reason for
me to believe that were going to see a change until maybe
the first of the year," one Midwest service center source said.
"I dont see anything happening in the fourth quarter that
will change that."
However, despite a
steady outlook, mills and service centers said that a softening
in steel prices in certain parts of the country this week were
due to competitive imports and pressure by service centers
because of stiff competition downstream.
"Were just in a
malaise. The only thing thatll change it for us is if we
see some confidence go back into maintaining better inventory,"
one mill source said. "I think most of our customers, including
manufacturers, continue to be very cautious on inventory."
Midwest discrete plate
prices softened to $35 per hundredweight ($700 per ton) this
week, down from $35.50 per cwt ($710 per ton) last week. Some
sources said deals in the $34-per-cwt range were possible with
some mills in more competitive regions.
Market sources had
previously speculated that the string of sheet price hikes
through the summer would lift plate prices. However, while the
plate market had a slight uptick for several weeks, much of
that strength has dissipated, market participants said.
Some reasoned that the
sheet increases were supply constraints rather than demand,
which is why it has not translated to the plate market.
expecting any big changes one way or another," a Mid-Atlantic
service center source said. "Things are very flat."
On the import front,
foreign plate has gained little traction. Imports through the
summer show volumes close to half of what arrived last year,
particularly as U.S. prices were relatively low compared to
A slight uptick,
however, seems likely in September, with about 70,832 tonnes
arriving through Sept. 25, license data from the U.S. Commerce
Departments Import Administration shows. Foreign
material, including about 8,238 tonnes from Italy, about 11,087
tonnes from Turkey and about 14,060 tonnes from France, are
poised to hit the United States. While volumes are lower than
expected, some said, it may be enough to keep domestic prices
"Import doesnt have a big enough price advantage for
people to place a lot of tons, but there are enough offerings
out there that are continuing to suppress pricing so you
cant raise domestic prices because demand isnt
strong enough," the first mill source said.