NEW YORK NLMK USA and ArcelorMittal USA LLC have kicked off a fresh round of steel sheet price hikes effective immediately, a move that buyers say has a strong chance of taking off if other mills get on board.
NLMK set its minimum base price for hot-rolled coil at $33.50 per hundredweight ($670 per ton), cold-rolled coil and coated material at $38.50 per cwt ($770 per ton) and specialty 1050 material at $48 per cwt ($960 per ton), the Portage, Ind.-based steelmaker said in a Sept. 30 letter to customers.
Chicago-based ArcelorMittal raised its base prices to $34 per cwt ($680 per ton) for hot-rolled coil and $39.50 per cwt ($790 per ton) for cold-rolled and coated material for delivery by Dec. 31. The steelmaker added that its hot-rolled order books were into November and its tandem mill books were into December.
AMMs price assessment Sept. 26 put hot-rolled sheet at $32 per cwt ($640 per ton) and cold-rolled sheet at $37.50 per cwt ($750 per ton).
The announcements came on the heels of mounting market speculation that a price increase was near due to low inventory levels and extended lead times (amm.com, Sept. 25).
"I think it can stick as long as other people understand the market well enough and choose to support it," one Midwest service center source said. "Youll need one of the big three to come out and say, Yeah, our lead times are out and we want to support it. Itll absolutely hold water."
Sources said that a number of other mills were said to be mulling similar increases.
The last round of price hikes, initiated at the start of the summer, effectively moved hot-rolled published prices to a range of $33.50 to $33.75 per cwt ($670 to $675 per ton) from a transactional base of $28 per cwt ($560 per ton) previously (amm.com, July 29). A number of factors, particularly supply-side changes, helped keep the market tight.
However, the move is interesting because "there are mills out there looking for business," one East Coast service center source said. "Lets see if this is a move to hold the current pricing or move it higher." He added that passing the price increase along to end customers would be difficult.