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Lead times continue to challenge US flat-rolled steel pricing


admin publish 2015-8-19 14:20:36


US flat-rolled pricing was flat on Tuesday as lead times continue to stay too short to add any upward momentum to pricing, market sources said. 

Published hot-rolled lead times from one integrated mill were out only three weeks while cold-rolled and hot-dipped galvanized lead times were in the third and fourth weeks of September. 

A buyer said a southern mini-mill was very hungry for a recent order, which would be rolled immediately. He added he had seen better HRC pricing out of southern mini-mills, and $450/st was available for order sizes outside of the Platts maximum lot size of 500 st considered in the daily assessment. However, the buyer said $460/st was a "trusty" number for HRC. 

One mill source said lead times had shrunk a bit recently and there was still some late August HRC availability left. He added that they are trying to stay firm on quoted prices between $460-$470/st, but will work with customers if the extras associated with the order make sense. 

One northeastern fabricator said a CRC supplier was in the second week of October for cold-rolled coil and was still quoting $600/st. 

However, a buy-side source pointed out that the "Northeast corridor is needy" and that they "need a steel mill" as current suppliers have to "buy from someone who melts steel and produces cold-rolled for feed stock." 

"As for other mills, a $580/st base for CRC or galvanized sheet is pretty common. Actual transaction prices are lower, depending on tonnage," the source said. 

A Midwest service center source said that "nothing is going to matter until lead times extend" and that mini-mills "in particular are hungry." 

He is not seeing that right now, he said. 

"The demand picture definitely seems to have slowed down a little more right now than people thought, including ourselves," he said "Hopefully it is just a pause, but if there is weaker demand with all this import and short lead times, that is a very bad equation." 

Platts maintained its daily HRC and CRC assessments at $460-$470/st and $580-$590/st, respectively. All prices are normalized to a Midwest (Indiana) ex-works basis.


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