NEW YORK Steel
plate prices saw a slight uptick this past week as market
sources reported that mills were more determined to push for
But while higher
prices may be achieved in the short term, some market
participants wondered why SSAB Americas announced a
$20-per-ton-hike Oct. 24, given flat market conditions (
amm.com, Oct. 24 ), amid skepticism that
another increase can be passed on to customers.
"Most, if not all,
service centers have kept their inventories lean," a Midwest
distributor source said. "Mill lead times are still
stinkin short and I dont really believe anything
has changed. My gut tells me the rest of the fourth quarter is
what youll see today and maybe well see a slight
uptick in the first quarter of next yearbut I definitely
wouldnt look for anything monumental."
transactions were reported at $36 per hundredweight ($720 per
ton), up from $35 per cwt ($700 per ton) a week earlier, with
some buyers saying they had a few extra days to purchase at the
The increase by Lisle,
Ill.-based SSAB Americaswhich competitors have yet to
followappears to have been prompted by a need to get
better value for its products, a point underscored during
Swedish parent company SSAB ABs third-quarter earnings
conference call Oct. 25.
"There is currently a
positive momentum in the market," SSAB president and chief
executive officer Martin Lindqvist said, adding that the
company needed to increase its plate margins after an uptick in
scrap costs (
amm.com, Oct. 25), he said.
centers continue to cite Evraz Inc. North Americas
decision to idle its Claymont, Del., facility (
amm.com, Oct. 14) as evidence that demand remains
doesnt increase, well see more things like Evraz
happen to some of the other smaller guys," a Midwest service
center source said.
"Weve seen some
nice activity the last two weeks, but the fourth quarter is
going to get slower and the first (quarter) wont be
anything to write home about either," a second Midwest service
center source said.
however, cite a number of bright spots in certain end markets.
Order intake rates also are said to have held steady even after
recent price hikes, which could be an indication of acceptance
in the market.
"Outside of mining,
there have been some good end markets out there, like
transmission towers, heavy industrial markets, electrical
transformer markets and wind towers," said one mill source, who
added that his mill has held the line on higher pricing.
But a second mill
source said there has been some erosion of increases in certain
parts of the country, including the South. "Weve seen
(competitors) not really quoting all of the higher number," he
said. "Demand on the whole has been growing. Its been
better than where it was in the previous three years, but
its not magical demand and theres still a lot of