DETROIT In a
leading move east of the Rockies, U.S. Steel Corp.
has increased base prices on its steel sheet products by a
minimum of $20 per ton effective immediately, a move widely
expected to be followed by other producers.
The increase affects
spot orders on all new flat-rolled products, the
Pittsburgh-based steelmaker told customers in a Dec. 16
Two West Coast steel
producers announced flat-rolled price increases last week (
amm.com, Dec. 13).
The price hike has
been expected for weeks. Market participants had said that with
momentum on the mills side, extended lead times and a few
more months until imports arrive, the move would make sense.
They noted that business typically picks up in the first
quarter, so higher pricing was expected. In addition, higher
raw material costs would force mills to increase pricing.
"The mills needed to
at least try it," one Midwest service center source said.
"Everyone was expecting them to do it by year-end."
A second Midwest
service center source, however, cited uncertainty over the
widening spread between domestic and import pricing, noting
that hot-rolled and cold-rolled coil spreads are greater than
$100 per ton while some coated and painted products have
spreads up to $200 per ton.
"There is a lot of
fear about how much foreign is going to arrive," the source
said. "My feeling is things will be stable until March then
soften quickly (because of imports)."