NEW YORK The
steel plate market remained in a malaise this past week as
buyers questioned whether recent domestic price increases would
have any success in the downstream market.
business slow down," one Midwest service center source said.
"Its getting more competitive out there and people are
just dropping margins."
The plate market,
which has seen little pricing movement for most of the year,
saw a number of material changes in the past week, including
Evraz Inc. North America announcing its plan to suspend
operations at its Claymont, Del., facility (
amm.com, Oct. 14).
The announcement came
on the heels of ArcelorMittal USA LLCs $50-per-ton price
amm.com, Oct. 9), followed by a $40-per-ton hike
by Evraz (
amm.com, Oct. 18) and $30-per-ton increases by
SSAB Americas (
amm.com, Oct. 16) and Nucor Corp. (
amm.com, Oct. 17).
Buyers were quick to
respond to the increase, doubting that it had any strength
because demand, while stable, was lackluster and didnt
warrant a hike.
questioned whether the Evraz announcement meant that domestic
steelmakers had a leg up because of the imminent reduction in
Nucor president and
chief executive officer John Ferriola said during a
third-quarter earnings conference call Oct. 17 that since the
Evraz announcement his company had seen an "incremental pickup
in inquires" for plate in thicknesses of less than 3 inches (
amm.com, Oct. 17).
While most of the
steelmakers didnt give a reason for the increase,
ArcelorMittal said in a letter to customers that the move was
"necessary in order to restore value to the full range of plate
products" it produces.
A second Midwest
service center source said that he would have difficulty
selling higher-priced steel to his customers, adding that there
has been a "panic" among some of the larger distributors to get
rid of inventory before year-end.
Discrete plate deals
were unchanged this past week at $35 per hundredweight ($700
per ton), with certain competitive regions closer to the $34-
to $34.50-per-cwt ($680- to $690-per-ton) range.
While the verdict is
still out on how successful mills will be in holding the line
on newer pricing, traders indicate that foreign material
hasnt been very competitive, with import figures for
cut-to-length plate in August coming in at less than half the
total for the same month last year.
that without a fundamental pickup in demand, neither the market
nor prices would see a meaningful change.
into the fourth quarter, and because of the holiday season I
dont see any spikes in pricing or mill lead times," a
third Midwest service center source said. "Im confused
about the price increases ... but I do hope things get