NEW YORK Steel
plate prices rose this past week on extended lead times, low
inventory levels by service centers and a pickup in orders at
the mill, sources said.
Since early October,
Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp., Lisle, Ill.-based SSAB
Americas and Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA LLC have each
raised steel plate prices by $3.50 per hundredweight ($70 per
ton) in an effort to get more value for their product.
Buyers and mill
sources noted that higher raw material costs and the announced
idling of Evraz Inc. North Americas Claymont, Del.,
facility were contributing factors.
Since the increases,
service centers strapped by lean inventories have had no choice
but to buy, particularly with prices on the upside and lead
times from some mills that are said to stretch into 2014,
buyers and sellers said.
"Weve had good
performance in a few markets, but its still bad in a few
others. They kind of outweigh each other," one mill source
said. "Were doing OK. I dont get the sense that
this is the beginning of some rapid upturn, but its
modest activitysome restocking and steady demand."
transacted at $37 per cwt ($740 per ton) f.o.b. mill Midwest
this past week, up from $36 per cwt ($720 per ton) the previous
week. Plate prices are also up from early October prices of $35
per cwt ($700 per ton).
Opinions were mixed on
the resale market, particularly as some buyers indicated that
they could purchase plate from a master distributor for less
than from a mill, causing continued squeezed margins and
distributors) are just giving it up. Theyre not selling
by replacement costs," one Northeast service center source
said. "Its not making any sense."
However, other sources
said that the resale market has gained some traction, although
margins remained squeezed.
"Theres no real
pickup in demand. We dont know any immediate needs for
large capital projects right now," a Midwest service center
source said. "The demand side has slowed down for us a little
in the last two weeks or so. Weve also had to cut some
However, others said
that even with higher pricing possibly enticing buyers toward
competitive import offers, those arrivals wouldnt happen
until at least February, leaving room for domestic mills to
hold on to higher prices.