Extended lead times and the replenishment of lean inventories
are helping boost the steel plate market, according to buy- and
sell-side sources, with most predicting rising prices in the
Those factors likely
will have a large effect on the market, as will a rise in raw
material costs as well as a leading move by SSAB Americas this
week to hike minimum base prices on plate by $30 per ton
(amm.com, Jan. 14).
to have good booking days where were booking more than we
need to for that week," one mill source said, citing
increasingly long lead times. "I dont want to get too far
ahead of myself, but things are looking pretty good. Were
obviously still concerned where pricing ends up with imports,
but in the near term the flow is stronger and we think things
are going to keep moving up."
The outlook for higher
pricing is logical, sources said, particularly with rising raw
material costs, which some said have offset most plate
increases announced since mid-October. Others indicated that
with Evraz Inc. North Americas Claymont, Del., facility
offline, the market looked a little tighter.
"The mills need some
money in their pockets," one southern service center source
said. "Certain mills are fairly strong, especially because of
Evraz (Claymont) shutting down."
A Northeast service
center source agreed, saying that the "plate market is looking
At bay is competition
from imports, which although lower than domestic pricing have
not been attractive enough to garner too much attention from
A few sources said
medium plate offers from Turkey and South Korea have made the
rounds in the past week, mainly at around $34 to $35 per
hundredweight ($680 to $700 per ton) c.i.f. Port of Houston but
some reportedly as low as $33 per cwt ($660 per ton), compared
with Midwest f.o.b. mill prices of $38.50 to $39 per cwt ($770
to $780 per ton).
"Its fine, but
its nothing to write home about," the southern service
center source said.
indicated that the most recent domestic price hike could make
foreign material more viable. However, with domestic pricing
increasing, foreign mills may choose to also raise their own
export pricing, which would maintain a good, but not
particularly attractive, spread.
though, why activity and lead times have picked up,
particularly when the plate market was fairly lackluster just a
few months ago.
"Honestly, when we
look at our order books its not like we got a bunch of
new people and its not like a bunch of people started to
book ridiculously," the first mill source said.
Others, though, expect
the excitement in the plate market will be short lived,
particularly with an expected increase in import activity.
"Im expecting a
definite correction in early April," a second mill source said.
"Most lead times are into late February or March right now, but
then again imports were low for the last couple of months."
Market sources said
its likely other mills will follow Lisle, Ill.-based
SSABs leading move, and with that solidarity, pricing
will push upward.
"I realize prices are
going up and I think the most recent hike will stick," one
Midwest service center source said. "Ive already told my
guys to start looking into buying."